John Cleese on Creativity

In this talk, John Cleese explains what he has learned about the creative process.

The gist of what John has to say:

Sleep On It

While writing his sketch, if he ever got stuck in a problem with the writing or  an unsolved script problem on his mind; he would just go to bed. In the morning, after a nice cup of coffee, he would go back to his desk and look at the problem he had the night before. And, immediately the answer to his problem became apparent to him. It is most often that he would wake up with the solution. Not only that, he often could not remember what was the problem or why he had the problem the day before. For this reason, he recommends sleeping on it.

Sleep on it. Coming up with a solution overnight without thinking about it.

Rewriting and let your subconscious work on it.

Through one of his experience that he shared. He mentioned about being disorganized as he is, John Cleese lost a just-written script. He was disappointed but he forced himself to rewrite it from memory. Just as he was done with the Re-written version, he found the Original. Out of curiosity, he compared both his works and found that his re-written version based on memory was remarkably and noticeable better version of the original. His explanation for this was that after his first finished version, his  unconscious mind continued to work even after he had decided the work was finished.

I guess what he was trying to point out was that one should try rewriting and let the subconscious have a chance to work on it a bit longer.

What do you think?

Avoid Interruptions

John Cleese mentioned that he noticed that the most dangerous thing to a creative process is interruption. He found it hard to pick up on his work immediately once he is interrupted.  Took him a really long time to get in that phase again.

He shared that it is easier to go back to his work when he is writing on a simpler sketch. However, if it is a more complex work, it becomes more difficult to resume. Because of the emotional state he is in.

The key to get into a creative state is to avoid interruptions.

He thinks the key to the creative process is your subconscious. So, if you get into the right mood, your mode of thinking will become more creative.

So, how to create the mood to be more creative? Basically as he put it; you should create your own tortoise enclosure. So, to do this you have create some kind of an oasis, a place where you can get into the creative mood so that your subconscious would come out and play without any interruption.


Boundaries of Space – Create the boundary to avoid interruptions.

Boundaries of Time – Have a starting time and an ending time. Only then, you will have your oasis where your subconscious will come out to play.

We get our ideas from what I’m going to call for a moment our unconscious — the part of our mind that goes on working, for example, when we’re asleep. So what I’m saying is that if you get into the right mood, then your mode of thinking will become much more creative. But if you’re racing around all day, ticking things off a list, looking at your watch, making phone calls and generally just keeping all the balls in the air, you are not going to have any creative ideas.” ~ John Cleese

Lastly, he ends his talk about how uncreative/egoistic/those in power discourage creativity.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Geraldine says:

    Like! Very interesting read. 🙂

    1. jyhedgehog says:

      Glad you like it. Cheers!

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