Friday, 20 December 2013

Creativity is not a talent

A few weeks ago at college we were shown this video to inspire us:

I'm pretty sure everybody knows who this man is (unless you either lived under a rock for the past few years or if you were only just born). John Cleese. A brilliant actor and comedian and pretty much a creative person, you'd say. However, in this lecture he points out that creativity is not really a talent. It is a way of operating. It was an eye-opener for me. I always considered myself to be quite creative, however, there always seemed to be people who were even more creative than I could ever be and I always considered it to be quite a talent to have. But in his lecture, Cleese explains that it is not a talent at all which means we can all be creative. YAY!

A quote:

MacKinnon showed that the most creative had simply acquired a facility for getting themselves into a particular mood -- "a way of operating" -- which allowed their natural creativity to function.
In fact, MacKinnon described this particular facility as an ability to play. (5:11)
Indeed he described the most creative (when in this mood) as being childlike. For they were able to play with ideas… to explore them… not for any immediate practical purpose but just for enjoyment. Play for its own sake.
 Awesome! Screw maturity! Which is a valid point indeed because if you think about it, adults are too limited by their need to be accepted and their desire to come off normal and well, mature, that they are often unable to cross those boundaries and seek inspiration beyond that. Children on the other hand are not limited by anything, simply because they have not yet learned they should be. Play is the most important thing for children. Exploring the world is an important thing for children. As adults we can learn a lot from that.

Cleese describes two modes. The closed mode and the open mode.

Basically the closed mode is our mature side. We have to get things done. We get stressed and feel like we need to get on with it. In this mode we are not very creative because, well, we're too stressed out for that. But in this mode we are purposeful.

The second mode he mentions is the open mode. It's the mode in which we are not pressured to do anything and in which 'curiosity for its own sake' can operate. We don't have to get anything done so we have the opportunity to explore.

However, we do need both modes in order for creativity to be effective.

But let me make one thing quite clear: we need to be in the open mode when we're pondering a problem but once we come up with a solution, we must then switch to the closed mode to implement it. Because once we've made a decision, we are efficient only if we go through with it decisively, undistracted by doubts about its correctness.
For example, if you decide to leap a ravine, the moment just before take-off is a bad time to start reviewing alternative strategies. When you're attacking a machine-gun post you should not make a particular effort to see the funny side of what you are doing.
Humor is a natural concomitant in the open mode, but it's a luxury in the closed {mode}.
I personally find that when I have a brilliant idea, I start dwelling on it for too long and do not get back to business to make the idea a reality. Which is wrong. Time to get into that stressed mode to make things happen. Work hard, play hard, as they say.

He mentions five conditions which are necessary to get into the open mode. Space, time, time, confidence and humour. Just listen to what he has to say. It is very interesting. It is maybe why the best ideas come when you are in the shower or on the toilet. You have time to think. You are relaxed (well usually. but I don't want to hear about your toilet issues, thank you very much). You can think and who knows, a genius idea might pop up?

But, do not always go with your first idea. This is something my teachers keep mentioning to me. "Oh what a great idea that is. Now come up with something else." Picking your first idea, however brilliant it may seem is always the easy way out because there are always better ideas out there, or at least better variations of an idea. So get that brain working kids!

I guess the most important thing I learned from this lecture (and this one too) is that it is important to be confident. It is important to not fear mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. You learn from them. And who says that teaching monkeys how to do karate is a bad idea? Take the opportunity and create the things you want to create.
At the moment I am working on two different projects which are both very weird and sinister in a way. I know that there will be responses of people who won't understand my reasoning behind them and will dismiss them as mistakes. If they do turn out horrible, well at least I learned from it. But I'm going to take a chance anyway because these are the things I want to create. These are the things I came up with in my open mode. These are things I would like to see/read.

Ah creativity. A mythical thing. I hope that watching this lecture will have given you motivation to go out there and play. Explore your boundaries and make a difference. After all, if we try, we're all artists.

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