Creativity Is Born From Restriction & Limitation

Paul Schrader“A lot of people think that creativity is about freedom, freedom to act on your ideas and imagination. But I don’t think that is true. I think true creativity comes from restriction and limitation.” Paul Schrader

Paul mentions this quote in a  short video where musical creativity is being discussed. I think the quote, “necessity is the mother of creativity” is particularly appropriate here. Most creativity appears when it is really needed. I think it’s hard to be as creative in a comfortable environment, as the “need to” is less strong or even non-existent.

Paul Schrader is an American screenwriter, film director, and film critic. Schrader wrote or co-wrote screenplays for four Martin Scorsese films: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and Bringing Out the Dead.


Creativity by Carlina Rinaldi

Carlina Rinaldi“Creativity is the ability to construct new connections between thoughts and objects that bring about innovation and change.”

Carlina Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children.

John Cleese’s 3 Steps to Increase Creativity

John CleeseJohn Cleese is one of the best comedy writers and actors that Britain has produced. At a recent event, he was asked about creativity.

Cleese said that his teachers did not recognise the creativity that was within him. “People who don’t have it can’t recognise it,” he said, “Creativity doesn’t have to be taught; it has to be liberated.”

However, the process of being creative is a complicated process. According to Cleese, creating and improving ideas is a three-step cycle that pairs the brain’s slow-moving unconscious with the fast-moving logical side.

Step 1 – Preparation
“You’ve been preparing all your life,” Cleese says, by living and studying and working and thinking, but the task at hand may require asking specific questions of specific people or carrying out other research.

Step 2 – Incubation
Ever notice how the solution to a problem strikes you when you wake up? Give your unconscious a chance to think, starting with a quiet space you can let your mind slowly wander. “Incubation is not about wracking your brain. The enemy of incubation is interruption.”

Step 3 – Inspiration
“That’s the ‘aha’ moment. Hints from the unconscious [need] to be interpreted, and it may take some time.”

This process would explain why an idea seems to come all of a sudden, but in reality, it is a result of long period of observation, fermentation and a rapid coming together perfect moment that leads to a creative explosion!

NB: Parts of this article was originally written and published by the Upstart Business Journal.

Why Do 6 Year Olds Need Spelling Tests?

spellingIs it me? Spelling tests for 6 year olds? Really?

I get the need to spell correctly, but what is the aim of being able to spell? Surely it is to be able to communicate and converse in a written form. However, what is the point of being able to spell correctly if the creative sentence cannot be crafted and created?

The written word has such power to express the emotional state of mankind. Most repressive regimes start by burning books and rounding up those that think and write creatively; it’s not helpful to their aims and desires for power to have people who can able to question and communicate this to others.

I’m aware that I am biased here, but my child is at the stage where writing has such a fascination. She is always writing notes and cards to everyone. It’s an act of love and the misspelt words add to the magic. If we corrected her spelling instead of appreciating the act and the thought, we would dishearten her and the notes would stop. This is not the desired outcome!

I do not like poor spelling, believe me, I spot the typos, but spelling tests for six year olds? Come on! In my opinion, it’s such a crass way to measure education performance of children. Get them to write a story and see how they can communicate and express themselves.

We must teach people (not just children) creative writing, teach them how to spin a yarn, how to express feelings and build confidence, and only then correct the words so they understand how to make what they do even better.

So what if my child cannot spell yet, that will come. I am just loving that right now she loves writing, and I don’t want anything to kill it.

Rant over…

The Wisdom of Johnny Ball

As a child, I grew up inspired and intrigued by Johnny Ball‘s enthusiasm for maths and science, but now, as a parent, I understand his passion.

I spotted an interview with the man himself in a local magazine. He was asked, “How do you feel about how science and maths are taught in schools?” His strong response demonstrates that the passion is still there, but is enfused with some great advice and wisdom:

The people who construct the curriculum are bereft of any sensibility. They don’t realise the damage they’re doing, and all the testing, testing, testing doesn’t help. The maths curriculum is all numeracy now. A century ago everybody was taught Euclid and understood how maths worked. Maths is almost like a detective story, not a boring topic! We’ve lost that completely. Geometry, for example, is a way of visualising the world. If you teach geometry along with art then you’ll get artists who are much more accomplished. We need kids who are inspired to become scientists and technologists – improving our lives.

Art and science should not and must not be separated. They both help to boost learning by bringing a different perspective and adaptability.

Go Johnny!

The Vital Importance of Imagination

JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter, gave a graduation speech to Harvard graduates a few years ago. She talked about two important themes, failure and imagination.

 I love the whole speech, but the following quote stood out:

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

Imagination is the foundation of creativity; to see and have success, dreaming must be allowed and encouraged!

NB: Thanks to Dr S Boardman for sharing JK Rowling’s original speech.

Disobedient Thinking


Being creative will often mean going against accepted thinking or behaviour. Here’s Welby Ings giving a really insightful TEDx talk at Auckland on his experiences on working with creative people.

It’s called Disobedient Thinking and I highly recommend you watch it!

Be Creative by Taking Risks

Being creative means trying new things and taking risks. To be creative and successful, you need to persevere to be successful.

To see this in action, take a look at the highest ever slackline walk. It’s just under 2 minutes long. Enjoy if you can watch it!