Darkness triggers a chain of interrelated processes, including a cognitive processing style, which is beneficial to creativity…But they also gave [subjects] four logic problems that required a great deal of analytical thinking. This time the researchers found that while creativity thrived in the dark, careful reasoning flourished in the light.
– Why Creativity Thrives In The Dark, Fast Company
The inconsistency of genius is a consistent theme of creativity: Even those blessed with ridiculous talent still produce works of startling mediocrity.
– Jonah Lehrer
This makes me wonder if some creatives are remembered for their failures while, through sheer good luck, others are remembered for their success.
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
Don Draper’s advice to Peggy Olsen in Mad Men was to think about it hard for a really long time, then don’t think about it at all. I’m pretty sure the creator of Don Draper didn’t come up with that — I suspect it’s what all creative people learn sooner or later.
For those of us working with graphics, here is some more advice, tailored to the visual medium. I think it applies to illustration as much as to design.
How To Get Unstuck, from Eric Paul Snowden