Thursday, October 18, 2012

John Cleese On How To Be Creative

I found this on annekata's blog, most interesting.

John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, has a great lecture on How To Be Creative and the steps one needs to take to set the time and space.

He describes creativity not as talent, but a modus operandi. He distinguishes between two modes of operation.

First, is the closed mode, which is our normal daily attitude, which repesents work, errands, family, friends and social media all of which are simultaneously competing for our attention.
The second is the open mode in which exploration is the main objective and goal. Kids call it playtime, the  mode where creativity blossoms. To implement a new idea or concept, both modes are necessary. Once a creative thought or insight occurs the open state has to give way to the closed one to implement the new idea or concept without hesitation or doubt.
To enter the open mode can be difficult. Life usually get in the way.

According to Cleese there are 5 elements to help set the stage for the open mode:

1. Creating space: Make room (physical and mental) to explore. Cleese calls it setting up a space/time oasis.
2. Time (quantitative) : Set aside an hour and half or so with unobstructed time. No phone, no email, no interruptions. There needs to be a clear separation between your daily tasks and “open mode time”. Nobody gets creative in front of a computer.
3. Time (qualitative): Wait for the mind to calm down (which can take up to 30 minutes or longer you may know this from meditation or trying to get to sleep at night) and stop your mind’s chattering, if that’s possible. It can be hard in the beginning, but the mind does get quiet faster over time. Think about something interesting like two juxtaposed concepts and explore how they connect. Ponder until your time is running out. If something occurs, great, if not, don’t worry. Wait or sleep over it.
Good ideas often need time to “incubate” below the threshold of awareness. Cleese also warns off getting get rid of the discomfort of not having an answer/solution right away. He says that the most creative people are prepared to tolerate the discomfort of “not knowing” longer than other people. In other words, don’t grab the first creative idea or insight that comes to mind. Wait on it and even more creative ideas could follow. I thought that this is crucial.
4. Confidence: Don’t let the fear of failure get into the way. Don’t expect anything to happen. Play and experiment without aiming for a result. I find that the hard one. We are all taught to view “play time” as losing, or worse wasting time and are always concerned with setting and reaching goals.
5. Humor: Humor is a fast way to change from the closed mode into the open one.

Yes less time on the computer and all electronic gadgets giving one the space and time to create.  And the funny thing is I was just thinking about setting aside a creative space in my basement.  No the whole basement is not going to get redone, but almost cordoning off an area in a bigger void surrounded by and easy access to the tools that I would like to be creative with, instead of doing a house wide search.

It's easy for me to sit down and write that is my environment in the Simla room, but to sit and sew especially if a sewing machine is involved and a cutting area is involved this becomes more complicated, hence a large area in the basement.

Now the basement will take some creativity because it is a basement.  But I've got some ideas and I'll see if they gel together.

I totally agree with what I call sitting on something until it forms as a complete project in ones mind and this does not take place instantly.


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