If you approach making art in a serious manner by doing things in a certain way and working hard at it, you may be missing out on the fun of creativity. Play and humour are vital components of creativity as they help us be more creative in a variety of ways. If you don’t feel playful when making art, perhaps you’re missing a key ingredient: being in the open mode. John Cleese explains in a lecture on creativity explains the “closed mode:”…the mode that we are in most of the time when we’re at work… a feeling that there’s lots to be done and we have to get on with it… It has a little tension in it, not much humor. It’s a mode in which we’re very purposeful… stressed… but not creative.”
In contrast, the “open mode:”…is relaxed, expansive, less purposeful mode in which we’re probably more contemplative, more inclined to humour… and consequently, more playful…. curiosity for its own sake can operate because we’re not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly. We can play, and that is what allows our natural creativity to surface.”
Being in the open mode, or playful mode allows us to let go of worrying about making mistakes or doing the “right” next thing. Cleese explains “To play is experiment: “What happens if I do this? What would happen if we did that? What if…? The very essence of playfulness is an openness to anything that may happen. The feeling that whatever happens, it’s ok. So you cannot be playful if you’re frightened that moving in some direction will be “wrong” — something you “shouldn’t have done.”
Letting go of being wrong can be a challenge but when you’re being creative, there are no rules. Any rules you think exist may be because you’ve chosen to believe and not because they are factually true. Instead, make art that is silly and “wrong” because as Cleese encourages, “While you’re being creative, nothing is wrong. There’s no such thing as a mistake, and any drivel may lead to the break-through.” It is freeing to know that any messy piece of art may eventually lead to a break-through and even more reason to make that kind of art right now.