Thursday, August 21, 2014

Setting Yourself Up for Creativity - Pt. 4

Once again today we are continuing with our transcript of the John Cleese talk...while also still figuring out how many Dogs does it take to change a light bulb.  It does depend upon the dog breed doing the changing - as you will see:



And now without any further doggie to do (or perhaps I should say do-do)...the next installment of Setting Yourself Up for Creativity:
So when I say, create an oasis of quiet, know that when you have - your mind will pretty soon start racing again!
But you're not going to take that very seriously.  You just sit there for a bit tolerating the racing and the slight anxiety that comes with that...and after a time your mind will quiet down again.
Now.  Because it takes some time for your mind to quiet down it's absolutely no use arranging a space/time oasis lasting 30 minutes - because just as you're getting quieter and getting into the Open Mode you have to stop and that is very deeply frustrating.
So you must allow yourself a good chunk of time. I'd suggest about an hour and a half. Then after you've gotten to the Open Mode - you'll have about an hour left for something to happen.  IF you're lucky.
But.  Don't put a whole morning aside. My experience is that after about an hour-and-a-half you need a break.
So it's far better to do an hour-and-a-half now and then an hour-and-a-half next Thursday and maybe an hour-and-a-half the week after that - than to fix one four-and-a-half hour session now.
There's another reason for that.  And that's factor number three - Time!
Yes, I know we've just done time.  But that was HALF of creating our oasis.
Now I'm going to tell you about how to use the oasis that you've created.
Why do you still need time?
Well, let me tell you a story. I was always intrigued that one of my Monty Python colleagues who seemed to be - to me - more talented than I was - did never produce scripts as original as mine.
And I watched for some time and then I began to see why. If he was faced with a problem - and fairly soon saw a solution - he was inclined to take it. Even though, I think, he knew the solution was not very original.
Whereas if I was in the same situation - although I was sorely tempted to take the easy way out and finish by 5 o'clock - I just couldn't. I'd sit there with the problem for another hour-and-a-quarter, and by sticking at it would, in the end, almost always come up with something more original.
It was that simple.  My work was more creative than his simply because I was prepared to stick with the problem longer.
So imagine my excitement when I found that this was exactly what MacKinnon found in his research!
He discovered that the most creative professionals always played with a problem for much longer before they tried to resolve it - because they were prepared to tolerate that slight discomfort ...this anxiety ....that we all experience when we haven't solved a problem.
You know - I mean - if we have a problem and we need to solve it...until we do we feel -inside us - a kind of internal agitation.  A tension - or an uncertainty - that makes us just plain uncomfortable.
And we want to get rid of that discomfort. So, in order to do so, we take a decision. Not because we're sure it's the best decision - but because taking it will make us feel better.
Well.  The most creative people have learned to tolerate that discomfort for much longer. And so - just because they put in more pondering time - their solutions are more creative.
Now the people I find it hardest to be creative with are people who need all the time to project an image of themselves as decisive.  And who feel that to create this image they need to decide everything very quickly and with a great show of confidence.
Well.  This behavior I suggest sincerely - is the most effective way of strangling creativity at birth.
But please note; I'm not arguing against real decisiveness. I'm a hundred percent in favor of taking a decision when it has to be taken - and then sticking to it while it is being implemented.
What I'm suggesting to you is that, before you take a decision, you should always ask yourself the question; "When does this decision have to be taken?"
And having answered that - you defer the decision until then - in order to give yourself maximum pondering time...which will lead you to the most creative solution.
And IF - while you're pondering - somebody accuses you of indecision say, "Look, Babycakes! I don't have to decide 'til Tuesday, and I'm not chickening out of my creative discomfort by taking a snap decision before then.  That's too easy."
So, to summarize: the third factor that facilitates creativity is time, giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original.
Time is so hard to come by - isn't it?  But I like his approach.  Don't settle for a solution until you have given it some time.  I have some very important things figured out just by sleeping on them sometimes.  In fact any project that I have pressed on rather than continued to play with has not turned out as well as I had hoped.

I hope today you give yourself all the time you need.  You and your ideas sometimes need and always deserve that.

Tomorrow's excerpt - John Cleese addresses the importance of Confidence and introduces the role Humor plays in the creative process.  I hope you will enjoy the next part even more than this part...oh and yes...some more doggie light bulb jokes...but I cannot stand more than one more day of them - truly!  :)

'Til tomorrow!