John Cleese On Sinking Into Creative Mode

Cleese is a very good public speaker, and talks about two different mindsets: the ‘closed’ mindset, in which we get day-to-day things done, and ‘open mindset’ in which we need to immerse ourselves if we’re to achieve creative work. According to Cleese, you need space, time (about an hour and a half), confidence and humour.

Things which work against creativity: solemnity, lack of confidence, time pressure. But he does recognise the need for time limits: a creative mindset must have an end point, at which time a decision must be made. But don’t make any decisions before you have to, because the longer you have to mull over a creative problem the more creative you will be. The most creative people are those who are willing to spend the most time getting to the most creative ideas in their brains.

Others have also pointed out that frustration is an essential part of the creative process:

The act of feeling frustrated is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer — before we can even know the question — we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach. We need to have wrestled with the problem and lost. Because it’s only after we stop searching that an answer may arrive.
– Jonah Lehrer
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t “try” to do things. You simply ‘must’ do things.”
– Ray Bradbury