Monday, May 5, 2014

John Cleese: 5 Factors to Make Your Life More Creative

"Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating." So saying, John Cleese lays down the methods you can incorporate into your life to invite creativity in. You can't guarantee anything, but this handy-dandy how-to guide is a way to inspire creativity within yourself.

Before getting into the details, what is an open versus a closed mind needs to be clarified. "We need to be in the open mode when pondering a problem, but once we come up with a solution, we must then switch to the closed mode to implement it. Once we’ve made a decision, we are efficient only if we go through with it decisively, undistracted by doubts about its correctness." Thus, the open mind phase is the creativity phase and the closed mind phase is the implementation or action phase.

Writing is an inherently creative activity, and thus writers need to operate in the open mode all through their period of production. Paradoxically, writers dread entering that zone. Once there are in it, though, they usually enjoy themselves, but they love it best after they've exited that mode. Writers, famously, don't like to write, but like to have written. If, however, creativity is a learned skill, then the more you practice it, the easier it'll get to descend into the creative mode.

Without further ado, here are the five steps...

Creating the Oasis

1. Space — "You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures, which would dictate a closed mode. Seal yourself off. Make a quiet space for yourself where you can be undisturbed."

2. Time — "It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time." To add to that Johann Heisinger says, "Play is distinct from ordinary life so as to its locality and duration. It's secludedness, it's limitedness."

Using the Oasis

3. Time — "Give your mind as long as possible to come up with something original, and learn to tolerate the discomfort and anxiety of pondering time and indecision."

4. Confidence — "Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake." Alan Watts adds, "You cannot be spontaneous within reason. You have to risk doing and saying silly, illogical drivel."

5. Humor — "The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else. It is an essential part of humor. Laughter bring relaxation and humor makes us playful, and neither make the important and serious things any less important or serious. They allow you to puncture egotism and ceremonious pomposity to get to the underlying creativity."

A corollary to the presentation is that a problem is more likely solvable if you simply stick in the discomfort zone of unsolvability for a long enough amount of time. Thus, you need all five of the above steps in order to have the tenacity to find a solution or write that fight scene or that final symphonic movement.