There’s often a preconception about creativity that to be creative you have to be some sort of Mr Claypole like court jester. Too many books on this topic seem to run with the premise from the author of ‘w-hey! I’m mad me!’ like that annoying nerdy irritant that manages to infiltrate everyone’s circle of friends.
Creativity is not about being an idiot. Creativity doesn’t require you to dress like a 1980s children’s television clown with a pair of comedy spectacles, silly hat and a large sponge hammer to bonk people on the head who are taking things too seriously. You don’t need a gunk tank or to give and receive foam-custard pies. There’s no need for that inane lunacy (unless you are a 1980s children’s tv presenter).
Being creative is a bit like being able to harness The Force from Star Wars. To use it properly and productively, you don’t and shouldn’t be too cocky and showy. The goodies (the Jedi) went around in simple, ordinary clothes. Their lightsabres were tucked away on their belts, out of sight, but ready if needed. They used their powers to help people and get the job done and not for cheap parlour tricks just to make them feel good. The baddies on the other hand were different. The Sith went into showing off in a big way. Darth Maul was such an egotist that he tattooed his whole body to make him look ‘really scary’. It was a bit obvious. He was mad and bad, a one trick pantomime pony with no subtlety at all. The same was true of Darth Vader. Ok, so he was a burns victim. I know quite a few serious burns victims. None of them decided to wear a black helmet in the shape of a skull. He wore his bad heart on his sleeve.
I have a motto that I’ve taken and twisted from that most annoying of office buffoon cliches. I don’t mean to present this as a clever joke, but to make a serious point:You don’t have to work here – but it helps.
That’s on my office wall. It’s a good a motto as any. The point being that to be creative you actually have to DO something. The book of Genesis doesn’t say ‘and God thought it might be a really good idea to let there be light and separate the land from the sea but decided to start the week with a few days off first’. Every act of creation involves a bit of work, some sort of action. That’s why we like a good creation myth like Genesis or the Big Bang Theory: things happen, things progress. If you know me you’ll know I like nothing better than to sit around making up jokes and ideas. But you’ll also notice that I always have a notebook. I’m always asking the question, ‘what can we do with that?’, ‘is it useful?’.
To be creative you are bound to be eccentric. You have to be. Eccentric means ‘not in the middle of the circle’. Being abnormal means not being the normal straight up and down at a right angle to the ground (eccentric and normal are geometry terms for circles and lines). We must be abnormal and eccentric with out creativity otherwise we wouldn’t be being creative. But we don’t have to be abnormal and eccentric fools. We just need to be ourselves.