#10 Show notes- John-Paul Flintoff – Saving the world one creative project at a time

Journalist and author John-Paul Flintoff is this person who inspired me to start this podcast. He talks passionately about how to get people started on their creative projects and the positive impact their creativity has on the world. This interview gets very meta: a podcast about the creative process of podcasting. We get into all sorts of great techniques for creative projects, including:

  • Improv games
  • Valuing what you are good at
  • Not losing track of what is working well already
  • The importance of getting started
  • Not worrying about whether it is going to be good.
  • Shared space in the creaive process
  • Why we need to keep noticing

But beyond any particular tactic, it is J-P’s warmth and encouragement that I find so inspiring. I hope it inspires you too.

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Show notes

1:10 – Loves being the person who gives everyone permission to do the thing they always wanted to do.
1:42 – Dreams are not always distantly hidden – they are usually in the back pocket, and they just need someone to remind them.
2:52 – The importance of getting started
3:00 – All I had done was ask someone’s permission to do the thing I had always wanted to do
4:00 – She could see that I wanted that ‘yes’ [permission to proceed]
4:49 – Being good at putting out stuff that isn’t very good. Not being constipated with fear that it isn’t any good
6:50 – You need to have a fellow traveller
7:40 – ‘Creativity research that I read’ – refers to Motorola in Csikzsentmihaily article on this.
9:06 – There is an endless chase for something new in our creative projects. We might start worrying about getting the levels right. When we get the sorted we worry about the content. Then when we get that right, we think, we’ve done that content before, I want to do something new. And we take for granted what we already know, and not loving it.
9:40 – A great skill for any creative work is to be able to fall in love with what you already do, even when you’ve got used to it and got a bit bored and to approach it with fresh eyes.
10:30 – Book ‘how to change the world’ –
11:00 – The art of capturing a moment, the moment at which you have just mastered something new, that’s the time at which you are best placed to teach it to someone else. Essentially that’s what an entrepreneur does, and that is what creativity effectively is.
11:45 – Interruption from the carpenters
13:00 – Working as a journalist, enjoying going into a world and living it for some time before writing about it. Gives insights that you’d never have otherwise.
14:30 – You don’t get that sort of empathy by talking about it, because you edit yourself. But being alongside someone you hear richer stories.
15:40 – Becoming worried about climate change and peak oil got him interested in helping other people be creative.
16:30 – when I started making my own clothes it just made people smile. If they think my struggle to save the planet is funny, then they are more likely to listen than if I am lecturing. You can then smuggle the message in about climate change.
17:20 – the vocabulary of shirt-making
19:00 – his discovery of improv, with Keith Johnstone.
19:30 – The thing J-P likes about improv is the games that train to realise that things completely change depending on where we look, how we position our bodies with respect to other people, what utterances we make about us or them.
20:00 – Bristol Swing Festival – learning clowning skills
21:25 – Improv technique: spend as much time as possible not advancing the action. Do whatever you need to do in order to make it interesting.
22:10 – Another cool exercise: the audience is given permission to leave as soon as they are bored.
23:30 – Raise one arm, capture the silence and put it in your pocket.
24:00 – Acting things out as a design technique… it’s also a good way to get started.
26:00 – The loss of shared space for thinking
26:50 – The third entity in a conversation between two people talking is the interaction.
27:00 – Had we had the conversation remotely, it would have been depleted.
28:20 – Online collaboration, can we get the same levels of collaboration? There is something that is quite obvious about it when we are in a room together.
29:20 – Even emails sent to multiple people seem much weaker than one sent directly to you. The bond isn’t there, the attention isn’t there.
30:00 – Gamified interactive training that can be online but is still personal. Some of these collaborative tools can help us make communication more personalised
31:30 – Something is going to happen to human mind which is going to allow us to comprehend having conversations with faceless multiples of people.
32:00 – Are we being forced to do it more quickly than we can evolve to accommodate it.
32:50 – Matthew Crawford’s – ‘The Case for Working with your Hands’ and ‘The World Beyond Your Head’ – these books remind me to re-centre myself in physical space.
33:30 – Did quitting Facebook lift me up? It showed me I was confusing company for pseudo company.
34:20 – It’s so easy to slip into the mindless of it all [social media]. The word that is behind of all of the things JP is interested in as ‘mindfulness’, although it feels a bit cheapened at the moment.
35:00 – Mindfulness helping creativity – you need to be aware of what is happening in order to think of an alternative.
35:30 – Iris Murdoch says, take the attention away from yourself and put it towards the situation you are in – only at that point can you start to make decisions about that situation and decide to do something different. It helps us to remove the ego.
36:30 – OB’s theory of analogue skills.
37:00 – Analogue skill example 1: photography. How did we used to take photos with film cameras. Probably badly, as there was a slow feedback loop.
38:20 – Restrictions give you so much more sense of value. Imagine if you only had 12 more shots left on Instagram – how would you use them?
38:50 – Making your own notebooks from the worst possible materials. That’s a really tough constraint.
39:30 – All the things that you do with your bodies are physically constrained, and I would rejoice in them.
39:50 – Restricting options augments creativity – a well established principle – but what many digital tools give us is infinite abilities, so where do you start.
40:10 – I can look at my phone and make a movie right now, or send a photo to everyone I have ever met, I can record all my thoughts and everything…being locked in a room with one pencil and a sheet of paper would be bliss.
40:40 – Analogue skill #2: correspondence, only communicating by post for a month.
41:10 – JP’s email charter. I can’t spend my life running round after other people’s emails.
43:10 – the end of the long-form email.
44:00 – separation of email content into information and action
45:40 – Analogue Skill #3: map reading.
46:20 – JP likes to vary the route, use different forms of transport, it is all interesting and you keep noticing.
46:48 – Why is it important to keep noticing? Because then I know that I am alive. Otherwise I might just be in some replay version.
48:00 – Seeking permission to write a book on Analogue Skills.

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  1. Well I probably shouldn’t comment, but I can’t help myself – it was great listening to what we did together, thank you. We covered SO much! Would be great to take teeny snippets and expand on them. Anyway, good luck with the book Oli 🙂

    • Thanks JP! I was thinking of taking the content of your interview and a few of the others that I now have on creativity and turning some of the ideas into some sort of mini book of inspirational suggestions. I’ll let you know how I get on with that, and that could be a chance to expand on a few of these ideas.

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