If you get frustrated with the creative people in your life, reading this might help you understand.
Creative people ….
don’t get bored.
They’re interested in things far beyond their own little range of the world. They don’t box their lives into one career, one family, and one hobby. They see that all things have potential, can be interesting. They don’t dismiss entire topics, subject, cultures, ideas, specialties, careers, or groups just because they are unfamiliar, different, or appear humdrum on the surface. [If they do get bored, it's because their buzzy creative brains are already 5 1/2 steps down the road to another interesting thing.]
want to learn about things they don’t know.
They don’t box stuff out and say “it’s out of my area.” They are willing to investigate. They are willing to get below the surface. They know that the surface isn’t the end of the story. They understand that the plainest packaging can hide the most exciting, strange, fascinating surprises.
don’t segment their lives.
They learn to pull inspiration from one part of life to another, freely. They knock down silly, arbitrary boundaries that separate and segment people into tidy little boxes. They understand that people don’t fit into tidy little boxes.
get intensely into different things.
They don’t bother much with balance. They’ll be passionate about swing dancing, or sky diving, or paper making. Then they’ll leave that all behind to take up organic gardening, or some obscure branch of martial arts, or an amazing new invention. A lot of people don’t understand this, and get frustrated (which makes sense in their world, so have pity on them and their smaller, boring lives).
can make connections between things that don’t have obvious relationships.
This is the heart of creativity, and it is fed by the blood of all those inputs, those diverse interests, those random experiences, that never-ending quest to learn and know and understand and see and do and taste and experience. That randomness, that passion, that imbalance is precisely what allows a creative person to create.
find a way to personalize what they do.
They might be painting portraits, writing sonnets, designing websites, writing business plans… They understand that they don’t have to reinvent every form or method in order to make their work their own, unique, personal, meaningful. They put their heart and soul, their brain and energy, their passion and spark, into each project and that’s what makes each project new and valuable. (It is also what can cause creative people to take failure, rejection, and criticism very personally, to feel it all very deeply, because they put the core of who they are into each project they take on. So if you’re close to a creative person, tread gently. Use soft words. Just one or two. They’ll understand what you’re saying.)
have a drive to be different.
They can’t really help it. They feed off it. Life is not a ho-hum journey down a beaten-up track but an ADVENTURE, a quest, a challenge, a wild ride, a machete-wielding, monkey-chasing, vine-swinging, adrenaline-pumping rush through untouched jungle. And doing stuff isn’t just about doing stuff; it’s about doing stuff different, blazing the new trail, showing people unexpected possibilities. Creative people don’t TRY to want this, or push for being different just to annoy the rest of the world; it’s just in their blood, in their brain, and it’s how they think. They can’t turn it off, and if they have to turn it down for too long they start dying slow painful and ugly deaths on the inside (looks like angst or depression on the outside).
go through cycles of intense work followed by deep rest.
The rest of the world usually only notices the deep rest… and is ready with the accusations: Why aren’t you more productive? Why can’t you be more stable? Why don’t you do X like your brother/sister/friend/dad/mom/partner/enemy does? Why don’t you work more? Why are you just laying there? If a creative person isn’t busy doing something, it’s due to 1 of 2 reasons:
- he’s slowing down from a time of intense work/project/passion/doing and needs a time of input, refueling, and rest before the next one OR
- she’s in the middle of that slow/painful/ugly death a.k.a. depression due to too much squelching, squishing, criticizing, and (real or imagined) failure
Tomorrow: what you can do to help the creative people in your life be more creative without driving you crazy. Stay tuned.