• Rebecca Lewis-Oakes

We Need to Talk about Kevin Clifton’s Theory of Creativity

Who knew that Kevin Clifton had a podcast? And that it’s an incredibly thoughtful, analytical, insightful, passionate and humble review of creative life?

Not me. And let me tell you, it’s a game-changer.

Yes, when did I last blog? Before my (notional) maternity leave over a year ago now at least. Sure, I’ve had little time, but I was more worried about getting the posts right, writing exactly what I wanted to say and perfecting it before I put anything out there. (Here.)

Kevin has just reminded me of the importance of letting go. He is very open on the podcast about his struggles with perfection of performance and worrying about what the audience will think of him. But he reminds his listeners that you’re not in control of the reception of your work. All you’re in control of is the work, you have to do your best and at some point just put it out there.

So, thanks, Kevin, for giving me the push to let go and just write, just hit that ‘publish post’ button and chill out a bit. It was exactly the boost I needed.

And then there’s the content of his 'Creativity' episode, which is a super-thoughtful, super-practical guide to getting creative. Indeed at c.35mins, he goes through these five steps explaining exactly how he followed them to create this podcast episode. So, it works!

Here are Kevin Clifton’s five steps to creativity:

1. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Let go of the end result. You’re not doing this first draft or whatever it is to impress anyone. Your first go does NOT have to be perfect or amazing.

2. Set the conditions for creativity. Get bored almost! Get comfortable, with no distractions to let your imagination take over. For example, go for a walk.

3. Have a look at some things that inspire you and get your emotions going. Ready to spark. Start watching a few things that inspire us, creativity starts to spark

4. Set yourself some boundaries. Kevin says the most difficult place to start is a blank sheet of paper, and I agree! He says that’s why the show dance on Strictly is very difficult because there are no boundaries. Whereas a dance on Halloween week, for example, with some boundaries like… where his celebrity definitely can’t do a lift, and they’ve been asked to be werewolves – that’s a great starting place to be creative. Give yourself a path, structure, direction to get going.

5. Then, if none of that is working… just let go of ‘is this going to be good or not?’ and just write, just do it. A lot of creativity comes from practicality and just doing. We can so easily psych ourselves out of creating, producing. Allow some of it to be a bit rubbish, not great, not perfect. Then look at it and edit down. Think oh that bit’s not good but it might spark another idea. But keep going, keep creating, keep writing, keep making mistakes and adapt – that creates more boundaries, more structure for yourself which allows more creativity to spark.

Kevin says these five steps are a great way to combat writer’s block. When we’re scared of not being great, or of what people might think and we duck out of doing it. I am definitely scared of the end result not being perfect, or amazing, or good enough, but I’m following his advice and just getting going!

This episode is definitely worth a listen, and is a natural successor to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic 'Magic Lessons' podcast for gaining confidence in creativity. Thanks, Kevin!

Kevin Clifton Show episode 15 'Creativity' listen here

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