Creativity works in a mysterious way often leaving us baffled. Inspiration and great ideas often pop up out of the blue and fail to show up when we need them. The science gives us a complex picture of creativity. However, there is a couple of telltale characteristics creative people possess that make them so unusually attractive, odd, and worth admiring at the same time!
1. They daydream a lot
They are here, but their minds are miles away during your conversation. Don’t be mad at them. It’s just the way they are! In fact, despite what teachers may have always told you, daydreaming isn’t a waste of time. According to this research, letting your mind wander can boost the process of “creative incubation,” or idea generation. Many of us know that often our best ideas come seemingly out of the blue when our minds are hovering in the clouds. Daydreaming actually involves the same brain processes associated with creativity and imagination.
2. They choose to work at odd hours
Many great creatives are known for working during odd hours. Haruki Murakami and Sylvia Plath preferred to get up at 4 a.m. and focus on writing for 5-6 hours during the day, and so did Nabokov, who also preferred to start writing once he got out of bed. On the other hand, Feodor Dostoyevsky was a night owl and wrote when it was dark and quite. Frank Lloyd Wright woke up at 3-4 a.m., and worked for a few hours before returning to sleep for a couple more hours. The creative type will figure out the times when creativity strikes most and structure the rest of the day accordingly. Don’t expect them to fit into a standard 9-to-5 grind.
3. They have special rituals
The little unusual things they do when they need to spark creativity, focus on work or just get into the mood. Nabokov liked to soak for 20 minutes in a hot bath, with a sponge on his head when he needed to restore his mojo. James Joyce had a signature white coat he preferred to wear during work and mainly wrote lying on his stomach in bed with a blue pencil. Dali invented his own power nap technique. He would clutch a key in his hand, sit down in a chair and place his hand over a metal dish. Once he was falling asleep, the key would slip from his fingers and bang noisily on the plate, waking him from the brief moments when he had barely lost consciousness. Igor Stravinsky, the composer, began his day by standing on his head for 10 minutes to “clear the brains.” If you live with a creative type, you’ll soon discover their odd and curious habits and fascinating rituals that help them stay inspired.
4. They easily lose track of the time
Once a creative gets “into the zone” or what’s defined as the flow state – a mental state when a person transcends conscious thought to reach a heightened state of effortless concentration and calmness – they become immune to any external distractions and can stay focused on crafting for hours without keeping an eye on the time. Have you ever noticed how baffled they look when you say them it’s been already late evening and they spent the whole day at work?
5. They surround themselves with beauty
Creative folks usually have excellent taste and prefer to surround themselves with aesthetically appealing things. Studies show that musicians express particularly strong response to visually appealing objects and goodness.
6. They are always curious
Creatives are not afraid to challenge the status quo and ask big questions typically starting with “What if….” They are immensely curious about different things surrounding them, always eager to know how things work and why do they work this and not the other way.
7. They take advantage of the life’s hardships
When life give them lemons, they squeeze out the juice, drink it and in the process create a new art piece about their painful experience. Numerous songs, books and paintings were created as a result of some strong emotional pain like heartbreak, grief or some other serious trauma. In fact, scientists proved that overcoming wrenching emotional pain and stressful life experiences if tackled correctly, can boost personal growth, interpersonal relationships, spirituality and creativity as one starts to see new possibilities in life and treasure them more. Today, there’s a whole new field of psychology called post-traumatic growth helping people turn their past emotional traumas into creative energy and subsequent growth.
8. They have no fear of being alone
Embracing solitude and appreciating it helps the creative to free their mind and let it wander – just like when daydreaming. A lot of creatives are often labeled as loners, yet they just need some alone time to think and listen to their inner creative voice, whispering the new powerful idea. Best works of art are often visual representations of the internal dialog the artist has been cherishing inside.
9. They are very observant
People-watching is one of their favorite pastimes. Nothing escapes the eye of the artists. They love taking notes, they love making sketches, and they always comment on some random things like the color of someone’s hat in the crowd or a shape of the shadow that reminds them something. They pickup and gather those tiny observations to weave them later on in their next artwork.
10. They can’t stand routine
They need strong stimulations in order to stay active and they often neglect tasks they find uninspiring or repetitive. The thing is, creatives devote all their energy to focusing on their inner universe and don’t have enough strength to carry on effectively with the day-to-day tasks.
11. They combine playfulness and discipline
The light playful attitude is what we typically see or expect from the creative type. Yet for one quick moment think how many razor sharp pencil strokes were made before you could see this painting? How many hours the sculptor spent trembling over the stone, methodically cutting down piece after piece until it transformed into a beautiful statue? Despite their carefree attitude, creatives devote long hours and tremendous efforts to work, stubbornly aiming for not less then perfection.
12. They are their own worst critics
Each writer loves each paragraph she writers, yet at the same time she’s being objective and knows which sentence doesn’t sound good enough. A painter will never be 100% satisfied with the final product and neither will the composer. It’s a huge struggle for the creative type to find a balance between adequate self-criticism and self-worshipping.
13. They are smart and naive at the same time
The paradox is that most well-known creative contributors had a high-level of general intelligence and gotten high scores on IQ tests. According to a study conducted in Stanford children with very high IQs do well in life, but after a certain point IQ no longer correlates with superior performance in real life. The cutoff point is around 120. It might be difficult to do creative work with a lower IQ, but an IQ beyond 120 does not necessarily imply higher creativity. At the same time, creatives often show immaturity and inability to deal with “adult” problems and important decisions. Often they never grow up and live with childish reactions and attitude towards various life difficulties.