I consider myself to be a highly creative person. At the beginning of my career an agent told me I was ‘too original’. I thought it was a joke. But nope. Eeek. I’ve been accused of being obsessesively creative. I took it as a compliment. I’ve worked as a writer, comedian, producer, actor, radio host and visual artist. I created a genre shifting show, UnCabaret. I’m so creative that when I act I generally also play creatives, like Marina Abromowitz on Sex and The City.
I’ve also spent tons of time with other highly creative people. In my own fields sure, and also musicians, show runners, directors, editors etc. I’ve also been teaching creatives for years. I was recently looking at The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and it occured to me that highly creative people also have 7 habits. But not the same ones. Even if they are highly effective highly creative people.
Highly Creative People Seek Out Inspiration
Highly creative people seek to stay inspired. So they can be inspiring. They try to keep the well full. They surround themselves with inspiring people. Other creatives. Brilliant, funny, unusual, opinionated people. They take in inspiring work. In their own field and others. They watch, the read, they listen. They let nature inspire them. Maybe the water running into the tub, maybe the Pacific ocean. Maybe a pet, maybe poppy field.
Some creative people stay inspired by developing spiritual practices. Some by seeking out provocative ideas. Some creatives are inspired by sports, fashion or even politics. Highly creative people go to inspiring places. Book stores, shows, galleries, talks, museums. Everyone is different. Everyone is inspired differently at different times of their lives. But highly creative people make sure to figure out how to stay inspired.
Highly Creative People Work Anyway
Highly creative people don’t wait for the mood to strike them. They don’t wait until they feel creative. They put themselves in the position to create. They sit down at the computer. Pick up the guitar. Get on stage. Whatever it is. On the regular. Even when they don’t feel like it, often using deadlines as motivators.
Highly Creative People Seek The Sweet Spot
Highly creative people seek out what I think of as the Sweet Spot. The area between two opposites, both of which are necessary components of being a a succesful creative. For instance being stubborn and being flexible. It doesn’t work to be one or the other. And it doesn’t work to be neither. You have to be both. You have to be stubborn enough to fight for your vision but flexible enough to make changes as they become required.
There are so many of these necessary opposites. You have to be always looking at the big picture. Of the finished work, of your whole career, of the world. But at the same time be obsessed with tiny details. Each word, each brush stroke each note.
And there are others. Highly creative people seek out the sweet spot between being overly sensitive and not sensitive at all. A rough tough creme puff. Highly creative people are usually sensitive people. It’s the thin skin that lets the world permeate and inspire you. That makes you feel you are one with the world and that in some way you speak for it. On the other hand you need thick skin so you can withstand the constant rejection. The sweet spot between caring too much and giving zero f’s. And hugely important. The sweet spot between being fully engaged in the work as a process and working towards making a product.
Highly Creative People Are Willing To Not Know
Highly creative people are willing to not know. They are willing to enter the zone of uncertainty. Mystery. Confusion. They are frequent visitors to the grey area.
Highly creative people dive into the wild waters of change where not knowing is required. It’s uncomfortable there, so highly creative people get comfortable with being uncomfortable. They don’t panic at a blank page/canvas/stage. They have faith in their ability to move through this space/phase. They ask a lot of questions. They are curious. They wonder.
They know that creating means growing not making. I’ve written more about that here. Highly creative people take risks.
Highly Creative People Are Always Connecting
I have a freind who is a painter. I love to watch her eyes. They dart from point to point. Not just when she is painting. All the time. Studying how things are connected. Singers are connecting head and chest voices. Comedy comes from unexpected connections. You laugh when you are surprised.
Creative people connect the audience to each other. Connect us to our emotions. Connect to the history of their field. Connect to that energy you find in ‘the zone’. Connect to each other.
Highly creative people often stay connected to their child self. They are connected to their dreams. They long for connection to the audience. That’s one thing that keeps creative people going through all the rejection.
Highly Creative People Do The Work To Know Themselves
Highly creative people know that seeking self knowledge is key for making work that is essential rather than random. They understand that being interested in self knowldge is not the same thing as being self obsessed.
Highly creative people do all sorts of things to know themselves better. They work with therapists, consult astrologers, seek out healers. They meditate, work the steps, journal. They have introspective friends who are also engaged in knowing themselves.
And highly creative people use their art forms as a method of self study.
Highly Creative People Convert Pain into Pleasure
You’ve probably heard the truism pain plus time equals comedy. It’s the best way to understand the alchemy of the creative process.
When comedians look for new material they look at everything uncomfortable. Painful. Jealousy, uncertainty, anger, fear etc. But in other art forms too. Taking the rawness of life and turning it into something beautiful. That’s a lot of the process. Highly creative people don’t try to avoid the messy parts of life. And understand this alchemical process is the essence of creativity.