Jez's Blog

The Strange Story of How I Found a New Band

A Salute to My Influences

Celebrating Our Differences

Daring to Use the Four-Letter Word

What Is The Real Olympian Spirit?

Watching The Olympics Opening Ceremony

How Good Service Turned into a Speed Trip

Blurring the Line Between Fact and Fiction

How Creativity Keeps Moving On

How an Artist in the Kitchen Revealed my Inner 'Foody'

Synchronicity - an Everyday Sort of Magic

Does This Make You Laugh?

The Magic of Storytelling

How Good Design Serves the User

Learning to Love Creative Blocks

Creating The CLUB

How a Kiss Missed Its Target at a Posh Do

How Bob Dylan refused the Box labelled ‘Protest Singer’

The ‘Get Back in Your Box’ Syndrome

What’s all the fuss about?

Reflections on Learning and Teaching

The Third in my Triptych of Entries about Thought

Happily disconnected in Cornwall

The Best Way to Sell is to Do Something Well

Life is Good

Zen & the Art of Birdwatching

Learning to Love Creative Blocks


It’s been a while since the last blog post and I’ve been thinking that I must write a new one. But every time I tuned into writing it, nothing came. I love this about creativity; you can’t force it to follow your wishes or fit in with your time frames. When the Moose* shows up you feel inspired and driven, when it doesn’t - you don’t! Nothing happens and there’s nothing you can do about it. In Taoist philosophy this is simply the way of life; in the dualistic world everything has an opposite: night follows day, activity follows inactivity, Yin comes out of Yang. In our success-driven culture we are encouraged (trained, brainwashed?) to chase the buzz and productiveness of activity rather than the stillness of inactivity. I guess the trick is to be able to accept and embrace both phases, to be as comfortable with the quiet stillness of the Yin as you are with the exciting, productiveness of the Yang. 


In the end the whole point of the Yin Yang symbol is that the ‘opposites’ are actually two complimentary aspects of the whole. This is why black appears within the white and white within the black. I definitely find that creativity is not in opposition to the stillness but rather it comes out of it. What I mean by this practically is that periods of inactivity and rest are often followed by surges of creativity, which seem to arise from having drawn from the well of stillness. It's the same principle as being nourished by a good sleep in the Yin of night which then allows you to rise refreshed for the Yang activities of the following day.


Of course if you need to be creative (for example to earn money) then acceptance of the inactive side of the Yin Yang equation is perhaps harder to find. I remember back in 1990 when my bank balance was low and my well of creativity had run dry. It felt like the ‘Moose’ which had led me to create picture books for the previous seven years had walked away and left me for good. The more I tried to look for her, the more I was confronted with her absence. If I had to pick a word that is the opposite of creativity I think I might choose ‘stress.’ However, in this example of opposites it seemed that the Yin appearing within the Yang theory was being disproved; how could creativity ever arise from stress? But let me tell you what happened next. Once I had taken on board and even accepted the idea that my picture book writing career was potentially over. something magic occurred; the Moose suddenly returned. Within three days I had written most of Where’s My Teddy, which for many years was my bestselling book. So in a sense you could say that through its acceptance, the stress gave birth to creativity! And here’s another example of the Yang coming from the Yin - out of the nothingness of not having anything to write came the somethingness of this article! Maybe the Taoists are onto something!


* My wife Rikka, who is Danish, once mispronounced the word 'muse' and ever since we have used the phrase ‘Following the Moose’ when referring to artistic inspiration. Click here for more on this theme. To read more about  'Rikkaisms' click here.

August 31st 2011

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