From his website, Ricky Gervais gives a long and thoughtful ode to being successfully creative. First, what is creativity?
Basically mucking about with the stuff you have in front of you. Experimenting with it, seeing what happens, and keeping the stuff you like I guess. In fact Scott Adams said, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
But how do you create? For Ricky, it is back to that old idea of "play."
You have to let yourself go to be creative. Children possess this quality but then seem to lose it as they are told, "it's not the done thing". Pablo Picasso summed it up well; "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up".
The answer is simple. Never grow up. I don't mean don't become an adult with responsibility and the weight of the world on your shoulders. I simply mean if you're writing or directing give yourself enough time to play. Play the fool.
"Never grow up" is an old actor cliche: play in an imaginary world like you did when you were a kid. It is good idea in theory that is often stale in practice. Because when people do this, they tend to literally act like the teenage versions of themselves. And that looks manufactured. Nothing worse than watching forced freedom. They don't look like a human being, sort of thing one about good acting. The key for actors: act your age with the inhibition of a child. Where the goal is creation and mistakes aren't a problem but part of the process. That is what kids do. Ricky on mistakes:
People have assumed that, because I don't listen to critics, or take studio notes or whatever, that I think I'm perfect and have never made any mistakes. This could not be further from the truth. Making the mistakes is the point, is the fun, is the important bit.
MAKING MISTAKES IS THE POINT.