Who better to write a book about creativity than John Cleese?!
If you pick up this book thinking it will be a Monty Python-like humor book, you might be disappointed. But if you pick this up hoping to find some tips on how to discover or enhance your own creativity (as well as why it’s important), in a light, cheerful, and … dare I say it … creative manner, then you should be thoroughly pleased.
If you are familiar with John Cleese (and if you aren’t you probably wouldn’t bother picking this up) you can probably ‘hear’ him reading this. He writes just as he speaks, making this easy and delightful to read.
Cleese wasn’t always a creative comic (actor and writer) … he initially studied to become a lawyer before getting involved with “the nicest bunch of people” while studying at Cambridge. Since that time, he’s discovered a few tips and tricks about being creative.
What Cleese writes makes a lot of sense, and it comes from research which he quotes, and his own observations. If you were to sum it up, I believe it would be that creativity can’t be forced, but it can be coerced and sometimes we need to recognize it for what it is. This latter part is particularly important. Cleese notes that when he and friend Graham Chapman were trying to write together they would grow frustrated during periods of creative ‘blockages’ – though after an entire week of work, they would typically come up with a certain amount of good material, week after week.
“We came to understand that the blockages weren’t an interruption in the process, they were part of it. For example, when you eat, the bit where the fork returns empty to your plate isn’t a failure. It’s just part of the eating process.”*
Wow. That’s actually kind of brilliant.
The book is brief … very easy to read in one day … but packed with insightful help and plenty of wit and charm. Just what you’d expect from John Cleese. He makes a strong case for reasons why creativity is important in everyday life and not just for the ‘creative types.’ But even those of us who consider ourselves creative will probably find a gem or two of advice that can be applied to our work (I know I did).
I highly recommend this book.
Looking for a good book? Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese is not only creative and clever, it is insightful and helpful and a great reference. You should get a copy.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
*Note: Quotes are from an advance review copy of the book and may not reflect the final published version.
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Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide
author: John Cleese
publisher: Crown Publishing Group
hardcover, 112 pages