Most people hope to become more creative, but how?
A Book Review – Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide
By John Cleese
What is this book about?
“Creativity” is a little book written by English comedian John Cleese. As you may guess from its title, it is a book that offers you tips about being creative.
The book is a very short read, with relatively big fonts and contains around 100 pages only. You will likely be able to finish reading this book within an hour or two.
The idea of this book is to teach you how to become more creative and it offered a key concept of “Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind”. I will elaborate a bit more below.
The links for purchasing the book are paid links via Amazon which we may receive commissions from qualifying purchases.
Who is this book for?
“Creativity” is a light casual read written for people who wanted to learn how to think and act more creatively.
The book contains humorous touch by the author. A reader from a review site suggested that reading this book is like having a casual conversation with John over lunch. And that over lunch, he will teach you tips about what is being creative and how to do so.
I can’t agree more. This is exactly how this book felt.
A Creative Mindset
John pointed out that creativity is just something very simple. It simply means to think and do things in a new way.
Most people would want to be creative, as creativity facilitates processes and usually can make your life easier. But how do we do so?
John offered a tip, that is we can make good use of our sleeping time. This is somewhat scientific, but our brain has a conscious mind and a subconscious mind. When we perform our tasks every day, we rely heavily on our conscious mind. However, while we are at sleep our subconscious minds come into play.
If you are a bit like me, you must have experienced this before: you face a very difficult problem but later after a shower or sleeping, you can figure out a solution came all of a sudden!
This is how our subconscious mind helps us. Usually when we are at sleep and not actively using our brain.
So as John advised, we can try think of a problem before we get to sleep. Then our brains will help us continue to process the issue overnight. The other day, our brain will likely offer you with a new idea.
It may not be an ultimate solution to your problem, but I believe you now get the gist how “sleeping with your problems” work.
“Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind”
Guy Claxton introduced this idea “Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind” to the world through his book.
John thinks this is a crucial skeleton for being creative and forms core part of this little book.
To elaborate a bit more, the “Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind” is the foundation of a back-and-forth thought process which we call iteration.
The Hare Brain helps us sort out logical inconsistencies. On the other hand, the Tortoise Mind focuses on forming ideas and pondering on unresolved concepts.
The book focuses on teaching you how to master this Tortoise Mind. I have identified 3 important elements and I share them below.
Element #1: Take things slower
We need to slow down our thought process if we wanted to be more creative.
Often times, every solution stems from an idea, a thought. The tip is to let the idea stay in your head as long as possible.
Think about the concerned matter in a slower manner, from different perspectives, ask yourself different questions. Take the matter in slowly.
Through such slower process, you will receive more information and your brain will be able to digest and extract different connections to solve the matter at hand.
This is how we can become more creative.
Element #2: Tolerate vague sense of uncertainty
In this rapidly moving world, our society places high value on quick decision makers.
However, to extend your potentials of being creative, you may need to practice something contrary.
John’s tip is that you need to prolong your decision-making process to the problem. This way your brain can receive as much information both externally (from environment) and internally (inside your brain).
The process will be filled with uncertainty, and this uneasy feeling will push you to come up to a definite solution shortly.
The key element though, is to endure this vague sense of uncertainty which will help you extend your creativity capacity.
Element #3: Focus without interruption
While both elements #1 and #2 are conceptual, element #3 is a more practical tip.
John pointed out that when we start working on our creative work (such as writing, composing songs, preparing sales pitches, etc), we need to make sure that we are deeply focused and are not interrupted.
John suggested two practical approaches:
- Create a focused “Space”. Ask others not to interrupt you say by putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside your door
- Create a focused “Time”. Schedule a fixed time every day for you to focus working without any interruptions.
Both approaches will give you a calm state of mind to do your creative work, which is the best state for producing good pieces. Remember that your state of mind will directly impact the tone and feeling of the pieces of work that you are producing.
These approaches remind me of the Book “Deep Work” from Cal Newport. You can also read my earlier review here.
“Creativity” is a light-hearted casual read, but offers sounding tips for being creative.
The key lesson I learnt from this book is that creativity is a process that cannot be rushed. It requires effort and is a repeated process of questions and answers.
A new idea is born when your vague collection of thoughts starts to make sense and becomes clearer and clearer.
Despite the relatively high price tag for a short book, I still recommend you to give this book a try to help boost your creativity.
Thank you for reading and see you in the next post!
The links for purchasing these books are paid links via Amazon which we may receive commissions from qualifying purchases.
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