The Discomfort of Creativity

I’ve been trying out some new projects with my students.  At a recent workshop I learned some great movement activities, and I’m adapting them to the needs of my classes.  The past few lessons have been a time of slight confusion as some ideas are tried and discarded, and other ideas stick. I have a clear idea of where I’m going, but I still need to work out the in-between steps to create a satisfying experience.

There is a distinct feeling of discomfort during this time because I am venturing into unknown territory and have moments of truly not knowing where I am going. No children are harmed while this is going on, surely, but I often feel awkward, and the lesson might seem disjointed or incomplete.

John Cleese (yes, the Monty Python guy) gave a succinct talk a few years back on the subject of creativity.  To my delight, he actually celebrates this messiness and discomfort as an essential part of the creative process.  He even states that the most creative people are those who can tolerate this confused state the longest.  He suggests that the person who simply grabs at the first solution to a problem, even though it ends the discomfort, will not be the most creative.

During this awkward in-between time, he urges an attitude of light-hearted play, and of non-judgment.  He advises patience.  If you stay open, he says, the answers you need will eventually come.

~ Liz

Click HERE to see the whole speech by John Cleese (about 30 minutes).


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2 Responses

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  1. Mara

    What a wonderful topic! I think we must all go through these moments in our teaching. I know I have recently had a couple of weeks of this. I have to try very hard not to judge myself or imagine the world judging me as I attempt to try new things and grow. I sometimes forget that I always come through the other end with some new ideas, lesson plans, and learning experiences. But when I’m in the middle of it, it sure does feel as you described… awkward and as if the lesson is totally disjointed and uneven.

    Actually sometimes the thing that helps me the most is when I have to teach a lesson a few times. We are so fortunate to be able to learn through our own ‘rehearsal’ process of teaching a lesson more than once and trying out different things and seeing how the students react to it and what THEY do with it. Sometimes they are the best guides.

    If it hasn’t cleared up while teaching my next step is to analyze what happened, and decide what I need to do to reshape it. Once again IF I stop judging myself and let myself play and explore new ideas will come. I guess that is pretty much the same experience as what John Cleese talks about.

    Gotta trust in the process.

  2. Liz

    Yes indeed! Trust in the process.

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