Book Review: Creativity by John Cleese


Title: Creativity

By: John Cleese

Genre: Non-Fiction

Pages: 112

Release Date: September 30, 2020

Publisher: Hutchinson

Rating: ★★★★★


Summary from Goodreads:

We can all be more creative. John Cleese shows us how.

Creativity is usually regarded as a mysterious, rare gift that only a few possess. John Cleese begs to differ, and in this short, immensely practical and often very amusing guide he shows it's a skill that anyone can acquire. Drawing on his lifelong experience as a writer, he shares his insights into the nature of the creative process, and offers advice on how to get your own inventive juices flowing.

What do you need to do to get yourself in the right frame of mind? When do you know that you've come up with something that might be worth pursuing? What do you do if you think you've hit a brick wall?

Not only does he explain the way your mind works as you search for inspiration, he also shows that, regardless of the task you've set yourself, you can learn to be better at coming up with a promising idea, refining it and knowing when you're ready to act on it.

We can all unlock new reserves of creativity within ourselves. John Cleese shows us how.


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I have never in my entire life heard someone explain creativity like John Cleese has in his new book. This man is not only a comedy genius, best known for his role in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, but he is also a world renowned author with several cheeky books under his belt. Intrigued?

Going into this book I expected the normal paragraph after paragraph of creative process that every other book I’ve read on this subject has droned on about, but this wasn’t the case. The most interesting part was how Cleese described failure. The creative process doesn’t stop when we have a mental block, It allows for our minds to subconsciously work through the problem.

"We came to understand that the blockages weren't an interruption in the [creative] 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 a part of the eating process."

Have you ever had a project that comes to a screeching halt and you’re ready to throw in the towel, but the next morning the most incredible idea comes to mind that will fix all your problems? Hello! Creative process. Your mind doesn’t stop working, just because you aren’t thinking about the issue.

Even now, as I write this review, I find myself stopping to work out issues in my own words. And even if I scrap an entire sentence or paragraph, I realize now that it wasn’t a failure in my ability to write, but the evolution in my own creativity. I cannot evolve without failure. It makes me wonder about the next generation. We hand out participation trophies like candy, never teaching our children about failure and essentially never allowing their creative minds to develop into the John Cleese of their generation, or a Sara Henderson because who wouldn’t want to be me…. Anyway…

This book cannot be more relevant in times like this where we are all exhausted from life in general. The jovial writing style, backed up by humor and the deep dissection of creativity itself has made for a wonderful read. Plus, its only 112 pages. Read it, pass it around the office and discuss.

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