Sunday, 11 August 2013

How to be more creative - gratuitous advice


Increasing the proportion of unstructured time alone is the key - as Glenn Gould once said:

GOULD: I don't know what the effective ratio would be, but I've always had some sort of intuition that for every hour you spend in the company of other human beings, you need "x" number of hours alone. Now, what "x" represents I don't really know; it might be two and seven-eighths or seven and two-eighths, but it is a substantial ratio.

Secondly, you may need to find whether you are an evening or a morning person - an owl or a lark: I am a lark, so I get up at 05.00 hours and do my best thinking/ creative stuff before 11.00. But most creatives are owls.

Thirdly - you need to get enough sleep of sufficiently high quality: a lot of creativity happens during sleep.


So the following need to be got right: 

1. Unstructured time
2. Diurnal rhythm
3. Sleep



Ben Nye said...

This is an interesting post Bruce. I've enjoyed your posts on creativity vs. conscientiousness. I've been wondering what capacity there is for a creative to 'learn' conscientiousness and vice versa. Specifically, within the context of Christianity.

I seem to remember you posting a year or two ago about the nature of genius and greatness. In this post you contrasted C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. You said Tolkien was truly a creative genius while Lewis was a great man. Is it possible that Lewis achieved 'greatness' through the learning of conscientiousness? Furthermore, could this learned conscientiousness have been developed through the habits of Christianity? i.e. daily prayers, scripture reading, charity, etc. In my mind, it seems clear that Lewis would have been more on the 'Creative' end of the spectrum than the 'Conscientious' end. (At least starting out, anyway.)

If so, could a genius learn to be great? (I'm using the word 'great' here as supporting and promoting good and not evil.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ben - I think Lewis always was more conscientious than Tolkien - he got through a phenomenal amount of work. Further, he was able to make himself do a lot of very thorough reading even of work he disliked and found unpleasant.

I think this capacity grew throughout his life - but began before he became a Christian. I wouldn't say that Christianity made him more conscientious, but rather that he applied his conscientiousness to Christianity - and he often recommends that other people do the same.

He recommended that we get good habits, including forcing ourselves to keep routines of prayer, churchgoing, charity etc. Indeed, he seemed to believe that those prayers which we forced ourselves to do, those dull services we forced ourselves to attend, were probably the most valuable.