Dan Johnson writes:

Being creative can be a lonely business: wrestling with complex ideas and issues, mulling them over in your head trying to turn the chaos into a single clear message. It’s not surprising then that many creative people see less than their average share of daylight. I, like many of us ‘creative’ types am guilty of this… sometimes.

A few days ago, at the invitation of a friend, I attended a birthday celebration evening for the comic legend Barry Cryer. The stage was chock-full of comedy talent, performers, musicians, writers and actors: a smorgasbord of creativity, if you will. As I sat in the audience laughing, my own creativity was sparked. I began to see ideas, concepts… things that fed my imagination in ways that sitting in the office never could.

I wasn’t thinking about a particular problem or brief I was working on but I was conscious of my brain storing and registering new ways of expression.

The same was true of the afternoon before I went to the theatre. I had strolled around Covent Garden for a couple of hours and, because I didn’t have anything in particular I needed to do, my mind just wandered as aimlessly as I did. I walked around the markets, shops and arcades… I even went into a graphic design materials shop for the first time in years.

Having an ‘empty’ head, so to speak, allowed me just to take in everything around me without trying to apply it to anything and it was very liberating. Sometimes it is good, no, important, to just set your mind free and switch it to ‘record’ mode.

Allow it to absorb the world around it and store up images, feelings, experiences and thoughts – after two hours in Covent Garden followed by two hours of comedy in the theatre my brain was sparkling and, although I didn’t get to bed until 2am I still struggled to sleep, I had so many ideas running through my head.

There are two things here that I believe are important:

  1. I know it’s obvious, but sometimes we need reminding that creative people need inspiration and stimulation and they won’t get that by sitting in an office all day.
  1. They need to do it when they don’t necessarily have a reason to, when they are not trying to solve a problem but simply in need of creative refreshment.

I guess it’s like shopping for food if you like cooking; you will naturally buy what you need, what you went out to buy in the first place for a particular recipe that you have in mind. But, if you see an ingredient that you haven’t seen before you may buy it thinking ‘that’s interesting, I’m sure I can find a use for that sometime’.

Having spent a wonderful evening with Barry Cryer and friends after soaking up Covent Garden, I am very excited about the ideas I will be able to bring to the table in future creative challenges.

Image: The Bridge of Inspiration at the Royal Ballet.

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