How To Unlock Your Creative Genius

I was watching an interview with John Cleese recently and he said something that got me thinking. When asked about his creative process he said, “You cannot bully the subconscious. It simply doesn’t work.” He went on to say that his best work always happened spontaneously. 

He still had a process, it’s just that the muse didn’t always play ball. Often the work that resulted wasn’t very good. They’d have days where none of the material was used. 

He noted, it is usually when they weren’t trying to make something happen – when they were simply messing around – that everything would start to click. Suddenly the muse would come out to play and what resulted was comedic gold. 

I often hear bloggers write about the need to have a process. A specific time where you commit to writing each day. A place where you sit down and “punch the damn keys” as one blogger regularly puts it. 

Of course, if you don’t form the habit it’s much harder to catch that bastard muse when it strikes. Having a process is about creating the conditions that make it more likely to come out and play. Not to mention that you’re committing yourself to improve through regular practice. 

That said, I wonder if there might be a little too much emphasis on habit formation nowadays? Something I rarely hear bloggers make mention of is this idea of spontaneity. This idea of being ready for when the muse strikes outside of your normal routine.

I don’t know about you but often when I commit to writing, the muse is nowhere to be found.

I say, “Ok buddy, time to sit down and write. Gotta crack out that weekly post!”

My muse: “Sure thing buddy, just hold on a minute would you…” 

At this point he goes into the kitchen and cracks open a six pack of beer before sitting down on the sofa and proceeding to binge watch NETFLIX… 

Oh wait that’s me!

Anyway, on the rare evenings I do employ willpower and commit myself to writing, my muse remains silent. 

When that happens I end up writing in circles.  I’m like, “Hey muse, you wanna help me out here?” Of course he doesn’t. Instead my internal critic starts editing the post well before it’s finished as I become increasingly aware that what I’m writing is complete dog shite. So I go back and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite… 

And then what happens?

Not only do I become stressed, I end up butchering the post in question. I actually create more work for myself trying to fix the mess I made, simply because I didn’t walk away.

The lesson? 

You cannot bully the subconscious.

At this stage I’ve found the best thing you can do to aid the creative process is not engage in it. Take a break. Go for a leisurely walk. Mess around with your children. Be silly. Have a beer. Maybe, even, binge watch some NETFLIX. (Hell yeah!) 

Do this and I’ve found the brain works in the background connecting the dots in ways that it couldn’t when you were trying to force it. So much so that when you do come back to write, it’s not only easier, but much better to boot.

There’s something else I figured out too. I’ve noticed it’s when I’m not thinking about anything in particular – when I’m busy doing something else – that my muse gives me my best ideas. In fact, he usually visits at 2am when I’m struggling to sleep. 

He says, “Hey numb nuts I’ve got an awesome idea, wanna hear it?”

“Not now muse! I’m trying to sleep!”

Then my muse says, “Fuck you, I’m gonna tell you anyway (my muse is a bit of a dick). Here it is…”

At which point he explains in painful detail this amazing idea for a blog post. 

So I say, “Ok muse – that’s a good one, I’ll admit. But I really must sleep. Can you remind about it in the morning and let me go back to sleep?”

Of course he doesn’t. He says, “You’ll forget in the morning numb nuts. It’s now or never! Here let me explain that idea to you again in painful detail…” 

Eventually I’ll get up in anger and write down as many thoughts about the idea as I can, as quickly as I can. Often I won’t think. I’ll just write. Sometimes I’ll write a first draft in less than 20mins. 

It will just “flow” out of me. 

When I revisit it in the morning I often go, “holy shit, that’s far better than anything I’ve written in a while.”

Interestingly enough, if I do wait on that idea, if I try to revisit it later on, the writing doesn’t gel nearly as well. My muse (that smug bastard) is usually right.

Sometimes you gotta play when the subconscious wants to, not the other way round. 

I’ve noticed the same thing happens to me when I go for a walk around my local park. An idea will pop into my head that’s too good to ignore. 

At this point my muse is jumping up and down like a dog in heat as a post will suddenly form in my head. When this happens I take out my phone and start writing. 

Once again it kinda flows out of me. I feel this usually results in my most interesting, if not my best, work. 

It’s for all the above that I take a somewhat freer approach to my writing nowadays. I still try to write at the same time everyday, but I don’t force it anymore. I take a daily-ish approach. I’ve become much better at recognising when to walk away – when It’s clear that a little NETFLIX will actually do me some good. 

I’ve also come to recognise the importance of writing when my muse is busting a gut. Unless it has to wait, practically speaking, I will try to sit down and write as soon as that idea has popped into my head. 

While you cannot bully the subconscious, it can, on occasion, bully you. My experience is, when it comes to the creative process, you should let it. 


(I’m curious, how do you engage in the creative process? Do you have a particular time and place where you sit down to write? Or do you take a more freestyle approach? What works bet for you and what other tips do you have? As always I’m very keen to hear your thoughts. Warm regards, AP2.)

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You can find more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award #1

Well, well, well. Can you believe it!? Another blogging award. Truly unbelievable!

Actually, given the sheer brilliance that is my blog it is, of course, very believable. I do need to be careful though – these awards have a habit of going straight to ones head! I can only imagine what will happen if I get more too! Women will surely be queuing up for an autograph. I can already hear them screaming hysterically from behind their keyboards!

Now if you could all pipe down for a second I need to say thank to someone.

That’s right – Hamish!

If you don’t know the young gentleman of whom I speak, well, you should.

This next part I say sincerely.

Hamish is a talented young writer from New Zealand. Quite honestly his writing puts mine to shame. He’s an incredibly thoughtful and reflective soul whose words are well worth your time. I urge all of you to stop reading anything I have to say and check out his blog instead at https://hardlinesheavytimes.wordpress.com.

Hamish thank you for nominating me. I really appreciate the shout out!

Still here?

Ok here is the boring rules bit.

RULES FOR THE AWARD:

  • Thank the person who has nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  • Answer their questions.
  • Nominate up to 9 other bloggers and ask them 5 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees through their blog by visiting and commenting on their blog.
  • List the rules and display the “Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award” logo.

QUESTIONS FROM HAMISH:

1. What is the best thing you like about blogging?

I started blogging because I wanted to help others while also improve my limited skills as a writer. Having overcome a number of personal issues with depression and anxiety in recent years, I also believed I had something more to offer than simply telling people how great they are (which of course they are). I’ve no idea if much my words have had any effect, but I can say with certainty the words of other bloggers have helped me enormously. If I got into this because I enjoy writing, connecting with others is what will keep me in the game for much longer.

2. If there was a film about your life, what would its title be?

Suffering Twice.

3. How do you decide what to blog about?

Usually when I’m walking around my local park lots of ideas pop into my head. I write them down on my phone. Sometimes I stop in the middle of my walk when ideas come to me and just write – words just kinda flow out of me – often this writing is better than anything I try to force. At other times ideas come from reading other blog posts – in many cases a comment I leave generates an idea from which I blog. Some days I just start writing about my thoughts and feelings in my journals and see where it leads.

4. Who or what are some of your sources of inspiration?

Without a doubt my ridiculous two year old son. He has shown me more about what it means to be alive than any adult ever has. 

5 What is one aspiration you hope to achieve by the end of 2020?

I can say that I already achieved something I set out to do this year. That is to become a published author! I wrote a children’s book for my son late last year and plucked up the courage to approach a publisher with the idea earlier this year. She loved it and worked tirelessly to help make it happen. The book hits stores here in Hong Kong next week!

MY SPECTACULAR NOMINEES

Cheryl Batavia – An exceptionally kind lady. I absolutely adore her poetry – http://gulfcoastpoet.wordpress.com

Janelle – Extremely lovely young lady who likes to blog about her love of books – https://thebookandpen.wordpress.com

Nina Yomo – Another lovely lady from South Africa with a very thoughtful blog tackling a number of important issues – https://ninayomowrites.home.blog

Suke Francis – A good man from Kenya who has always encouraged me on my blogging journey. He happens to be a damn fine blogger himself – https://bthought1.wordpress.com

I could go on but honestly it’s getting late here so I’m going to stop. I sincerely hope no one is offended if I haven’t nominated them. As far as I’m concerned you’re all nominated – I simply don’t have the energy to nominate everybody who has taken the time to visit and comment on my blog. Soz. At any rate my exceptional blog will undoubtedly be nominated many more times in the future so I will endeavour to nominate more of you lovely readers then.

To all of you who decide to reply- please use the questions above. Or don’t. Make up your own. Have fun with it either way.

Sending all of you much love,

AP2 X

Mystery Blogger Award #1

By… 

The creator of this award is Okoto Engima.

First up, a massive thank you to BThought1 for awarding my exceptional blog Clear-Air-Turbulence this most prestigious award!!! I joke of course, I’m not sure how prestigious this award actually is… 😂 Seriously though, it’s an absolute honour you thought of my poky blog given the sheer amount of truly exceptional blogs out there. It’s connecting with wonderful individuals such as yourself that has made blogging so meaningful for me. To all of my lovely readers I highly recommend checking out his excellent blog. He’s a very insightful writer.

So what are the Rules for this most prestigious blogging award?

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

3. Mention the creator of the award.

4. Answers the five questions you were asked.

5. Tell the readers three things about yourself.

6. Nominate your favourite bloggers.

Notify the bloggers( tell them you nominated them) by commenting on one of their posts.

7. Ask your nominees five questions with one weird or funny one.

8. Share a link to your best posts.

Onto the questions!

1. What keeps you motivated in these difficult times?
As a pilot I can tell you it isn’t flying! Aside from playing with my very silly family I’d have to say that blogging has become my favourite lockdown activity. It’s more productive than binge watching NETFLIX at least…

2. Are you a story-teller or a story-listener?
I’m a terrible listener – mainly because that requires patience. Telling a good story on the other hand is all about embellishing the truth, or omitting it entirely. This I’m very good at. 

3. Who inspires you the most?
Without a doubt my ridiculous two year old son. He has shown me more about what it means to be alive than any adult every has.

4. Why do you enjoy writing and blogging?
I think too much. Writing is an amazing way to focus the monkey mind on something positive. Left to its own devices my brain usually goes places it shouldn’t. A bit like walking around a dodgy neighbourhood past midnight. It’s actually quite dangerous.

5. What music do you like to listen to?
Before children I used to listen to many different types of awesome hipster music. Now all I’m allowed to listen to is the wheels on the bus go round and round. It’s ironic that my son thinks it needs to be played all day long as well.

3 things about myself

1. I’m half kiwi (the animal, not the fruit).

2. I became a pilot to travel the world not to fly aeroplanes.

3. I’m obsessed with psychology and philosophy .

My nominees are:

1. Pointless Overthinking

2. Word Of Wayne

3. Junkiegenius

4. Glitter In The Darkness

5. The Magpie Fancier

To all my lovely readers – all your blogs have inspired me in some way so please consider yourself nominated too! 

To my nominees please use the same questions above.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me. It’s getting late here in Hong Kong so I’m gonna turn in. If you want to read some more of my fine work please click here. I would caution that my writing usually requires a pinch of salt.

Love to all X