Creativity is not a talent!

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One of the advantages of working in a (more or less) creative job is that I can actually apply a lot of things I learn and experience at work for my personal creative life. A couple of weeks ago I took part in a creativity training where we watched part of an amazing lecture by John Cleese. The first thing that really struck me about his speech was this:

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.

I believe that anyone has the ability to be creative. Some people just know better how to get themselves into a creative mood. How to let their mind wander around and to come up with the silliest of ideas which might later turn out to be genius. I’ve met quite a bunch of people at work or in my free time who claim that they’re “not creative”. And I believe they’re wrong. I’m sure they could come up with a lot of great ideas if they just allowed themselves to. I for one have always loved to daydream, to think about all different kinds of things. My mind has always been playful in a way. I haven’t always been confident about my ideas though which is another essential. Luckily, I got more confident with age and if an idea is compelling and I can’t get it out of my head I’ll just go with it. No matter what other people might think. Fear can really be the biggest obstacle in this whole process. So just let it go!

Another interesting thought from Cleese is the difference between the open and the closed mode. I love the open mode where your mind is just soaking up everything, mixing it up, trying different combinations of thoughts and ideas until something fits. Since I’ve started to write my blog and my songs, I’m basically constantly in an open mode. Always looking out for new inspiration and things I want to send a message about. Of course, there are periods where I’m more open than at others. And I just love the feeling that everything is flowing inside my head. The time before sleeping or waking is a particularly great time to come up with ideas. Some of my greatest inspirations have come from dreams I’ve had while being half-asleep.

And then – sooner or later – there’s this one idea that emerges from the boottom of your mind shining like a newborn baby. That’s the one to follow. The one to close your mind on . When it comes to songwriting this is the stage that takes the longest for me. It’s where the hard work begins. It can actually take several weeks if not months to finish a song to a stage where I’m confident to sing it to my boyfriend so he can start working on the guitar parts. I constantly carry it around with me in my head. I know it might sound weird, but I’m always thinking of putting unfinished works into a drawer in my brain where it needs to mature. Even when I’m doing other things, my unconscious is secretly working on it. Until one day there is a hint, something I can work on to push it to the next level and finish it eventually. Again, it’s like John Cleese says:

This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If you just keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.

What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear them!

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4 responses »

  1. Totally agree that creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating. People aren’t just creative at the office and then not creative at home. It becomes a part of how they navigate life! Often making the mundane wonderful. Great post!

  2. Great approach. I might have to check out John’s lecture! I also find that you can go through various stages of creativity: The overflow or “open mind” as you put it and the stuck or “closed-off mind”. The latter is my problem when I am surrounded by people who don’t inspire me or really do not know how to live out their creativity (think office job and sitting in front of a computer 8 hours a day without anything really productive to do).

    Do you ever wish your songs will change the world or a person’s life?

  3. You should, it’s really interesting and also a great example for good storytelling. I totally get your point about (not) being creative at the office. I always find it hard to be creative when I have to. I need to be in the right mood (or mind). And yes, of course, I’d love for my songs to change something in this world. I’m actually writing a lot about inner revolutions, personal rebirth and stuff like that. And I guess every creative person is being creative for a reason, because they want to change things. We’ll see how it works out ;).

  4. Pingback: My year in blogging | Exploring Maybeland

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