Happy Easter Monday everyone!!
I realise that I was a tad slack last week: sometimes blogging falls by the wayside… Mostly because last week I didn’t have anything ready, and I felt a bit wiped out just at the thought of having to put something together. So here I am again, back and loud and proud!
Thanks to uni, I recently watched a youtube video of John Cleese presenting a lecture about creativity. It was excellent. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I’m a big John Cleese fan (thanks for that Dad!). I think he’s hilarious, and as someone for whom humour is not a creative forte, I’m always intrigued by the ability of others to write really funny stuff consistently and with success. I highly recommend him to anyone who isn’t on the fan train with me.
The point of the talk that he was giving was about where creativity comes from, and how we can best tap into that source. In a phrase that I’m going to have to use again (and again) on any and all possible occasions, he referred to sorting out your own creative space—both physically and in time—as ‘making a tortoise enclosure for your little tortoise mind’. He goes on to develop this idea by explaining how consumed we all tend to be by the minutiae of daily life that keeps us running around in circles trying to get everything done. Typically, our minds are going a mile-a-minute trying to keep track of everything we have to do: making sure one thing gets done while simultaneously remembering that the stove is still on, and that report is due at 8am and all the other important things that seem to accumulate and sweep us in a continual avalanche of ‘To Do Lists’.
In order to create, we need a physical space in a certain slot of time that belongs only to that pursuit—a tortoise enclosure—where, for a period of time, we can turn our phones off, ignore our partners and focus purely on giving our wild minds free rein. Now, I don’t think anyone alive is foolish enough to say that doing that is easy, because regardless of whether you work, have children, are studying, or have a million other pursuits, life is busy. So setting aside your own little creative oasis isn’t easy… but it is simple. I’ve advocated for this many times in the past (and likely will continue to do so many times in the future, so prepare yourselves), but the immense personal creative value I’ve found in a short daily window of free writing time has revolutionised me as a writer.
I swipe everything from my desk except for a lit candle, my tiny zen garden and a motivational quote, and in that open desert, I create a new world.
I’m not a very good plotter—haphazard, probably, at best—and interruptions tend to kill my writing buzz… But on that empty desk, within my daily 30 minute block in the early hours of the morning, I’ve generated some of my most beloved writing concepts. Stretching that out to an hour from 6-7am last year is what allowed me to complete the first draft of my novel, and even when it feels like hard work, which it inevitably will (because that’s life), I still do my best to jealously guard that period of time. Of course, it tends to fall by the wayside a bit after a big project, or during holidays, when I choose to spend that time doing other things, but it has trained my mind to be able to readily tap into and express my own latent creativity on demand for that period of time.
And after all, if you won’t take my word for it… Just ask John Cleese!