I’m taking the rest of the day to work on my book proposal. My brother Ryan recently shared with me an interesting video of the English actor John Cleese talking about how to unlock your creative juices. It’s about 5 minutes too long in my opinion but the core content is quite good. In a nutshell he claims that creativity is not a talent, rather it’s a way of operating. He focuses on five factors to help us be creative.
- Space – You have to create some space for yourself away from your everyday demands. That means sealing yourself off. You must make a quiet space for yourself where you will be undisturbed.
- Time – It’s not enough to create space. You have to create your space for yourself for a specific period of time. Keep in mind that it’s much easier to do
rivial things that are urgent, than it is to do important things that are not urgent – like thinking. And, it’s also easier to do little things that we know we can do rather than starting big things that we are not so sure about. Your mind will start thinking about all of the other things that you could be doing instead of working on your project. He says to just sit there for a little bit recognizing the potential interruptions but just letting them come and go. Your mind will eventually calm down. Since it takes time to quiet the mind and get into the “open mode”, you should allow yourself sufficient time to get your mind open to creative thought – he suggests about 90 minutes.
- Time – You read it right, I didn’t repeat it by accident. He listed Time twice. Cleese says that you need to give your mind as long as possible to come up with something original. Don’t go with the first idea that comes if you feel it is not optimal. Play with the problem longer; learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering and indecision. You’ll almost always come up with something better. Give yourself maximum pondering time, which will lead you to the most creative solution. Perhaps this is another 90 minutes.
- Confidence – Nothing will stop you from coming up with a creative solution as much as the fear of making a mistake. The very essence of being creative is an openness to anything that may happen – having the feeling that whatever happens, it’s OK. You wont succeed if you are frightened that moving in some direction will be wrong.
- Humor – Humor gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else. Humor makes us playful and brings relaxation. It’s more than OK to interject humor into your pondering upon serious matters. Humor is an essential part of spontaneity and n essential part of the creativity that we need to solve problems – no matter how serious they may be.
What do you think? Do you have any other tips or tricks for helping create time and openness for creativity?