I realised this weekend how little I am writing up in my blog.  I look at all sorts yet do not document this as I should.  So, having watched John Cleese discussing creativity, herewith my notes on that lecture:


Lecture by John Cleese

This classic lecture dates back to about 1991 in which, he provides pointers on what he believes is required to enable your natural creativity to flourish.

The lecture is, as may be expected, filled with humour and examples.  However, I have attempted to extract the essentials.

Firstly, he dispels any idea that creativity is linked to talent or IQ.  Rather it is a way of operating to allow creativity to flourish.  It is an ability to develop a mood where our natural creativity flourishes.  More simply, it is the ability to play, and to play simply for the sake of playing without any pressure.

Analysing this we see that there are two modes: Open and closed.

  • In the Open mode there is less pressure, one is curious and natural creativity flourishes.  In this mode one develops an idea.
  • Closed mode:  Creativity is not possible in this mode.  It is a more purposeful mode and one needs to be in this mode to implement ideas.  We are naturally in this mode most of the time.  Once we have taken the decision needed, we should switch back to the Open mode to review it.

There are five requirements conditions needed to be in the open and creative mode:

  1. Space:  One needs to have a quiet and undisturbed space.  There should not be any pressure and it should be sealed off, quiet and peaceful.
  2. Time:  One should set aside a specific period of time with as beginning and an end to enable you to shut yourself off.  This means you have your space for a specific time – about 1½ hours is about right.  This gives you 30 minutes to settle down and ‘enter’ the creative mode and about an hour in that mode.  One is therefore creating a space with borders of space and time.
  3. Time:  One should stick with a problem until it is solved.  This means tolerating the discomfort of not making a decision for a longer period.  As a result you have more pondering time, which usually results in a more creative solution.  By making a decision only when it is needed and not before, one has more pondering time.
  4. Confidence:  While playing one should not fear making a mistake.  You are free to play or not and there is no wrong when being creative.  The essence of playfulness is being open to whatever may happen.
  5. Humour:   This gets you into the open mode quickly.  It is an essential part of creativity and spontaneity.

One needs to keep your mind gently around the subject.

It is easy to be creative if you have people to play with.  However, you must like and trust them.

Need as free an atmosphere as possible

Being creative is linking two separate and different frameworks where the link has significant meaning.

One can start with random connections.

What does this mean for me?

The advice of OCA tutors is regularly to ‘get out there and take photos’.  Tying this in with ‘play’ one can see where the benefits may be.  By making photos without concern about making mistakes one could develop some open mode creativity.  Setting aside time to do this is probably the pivotal element for me as it would mean that this activity is structurally built into my activities rather than being something that may be done occasionally if time permits.

In summary:

  • Make time
  • Make images

About Doug Bell

Having recently retired I am now undertaking some studies in photography through the OCA which, I hope will lead to a degree in photography.
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1 Response to Realisation

  1. vickiuvc says:

    Will watch when I get back to UK—seemed to have nicked my Dad’s broadband allowance for March—no streaming video allowed!

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