Letters from Home
Creativity at work John Cleese guide book

If You Want Creativity at Work…

You do have to have some peace and quiet

One of the truths about creativity is that it takes time.

But sometimes, when you work in a creative “workplace,” you find yourself having to be creative, but also under the gun of having to crank shit out.

It helps to be good at what you do of course. To be able to sit down with inks and watercolors or at the keyboard and just sort of go.

That’s the first step. Removing the censor, and just start going.

Being able to just go and start and create is a real skill. It isn’t a talent. It’s hard earned work — and it often eludes younger creatives who may believe in the reality of “writer’s block.”

John Cleese said it very well in his new book on Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide: the biggest killer of creativity isn’t writer’s block or lack of talent.

No. The greatest killer of creativity, he writes, is interruption.

What is interrupting you?

If you work at creative workplace, interruptions take all kinds of forms: maybe it’s people swinging by your desk. Maybe it’s the constant PING of Slack or Teams telling you to look at me! Maybe you work in one of those faux “creative” open workspaces, where you have a nice sofa, but literally no quiet space.

Or like a lot of people during this pandemic year, maybe you work at home — where the ghosts of home are constantly popping up to remind you that home is a hard place to work. And (often invisible) mental stress is continually impacting your ability to interact, execute, and “be good.”

Keep Going

Cleese also advises this: keep going. If you have the urge, need, or will to be creative, don’t let setbacks (or fallow periods) get you down. As he puts it, when one is eating, even the fork has to be empty now and then.

If you want to be creative — see if you can hide yourself away for a bit. Find yourself some uninterrupted time.

Your creative mind needs to simmer down, in order to simmer at all.

Don’t let the crazy lemurs of your life be your status quo.

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