Creative Personality: “Wired to Create”

Creativity is a process that reflects our fundamentally chaotic and multifaceted nature. It is both deliberate and uncontrollable, mindful and mindless, work and play. Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire, Wired to Create, on the creative personality

Preceding the recent book by psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire called Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind was the latter author’s seminal essay, “18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently” (Huffington Post) and the former’s wealth of research on creativity.

So let’s start with Gregoire’s list of 18 traits of the creative personality (click on the HuffPost link above for interesting details):

  1. They daydream.
  2. They observe everything.
  3. They work the hours that work for them.
  4. They take time for solitude.
  5. They turn life’s obstacles around.
  6. They seek out new experiences.
  7. They “fail up.”
  8. They ask the big questions.
  9. They people-watch.
  10. They take risks.
  11. They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.
  12. They follow their true passions.
  13. They get out of their own heads.
  14. They lose track of the time.
  15. They surround themselves with beauty.
  16. They connect the dots.
  17. They constantly shake things up.
  18. They make time for mindfulness.

The book narrows this down to 10 “habits of mind” (each given a chapter) commonly cultivated in creative types:

  • Imaginative Play
  • Passion
  • Daydreaming
  • Solitude
  • Intuition
  • Openness to Experience
  • Mindfulness
  • Sensitivity
  • Turning Adversity into Advantage
  • Thinking Differently

Kirkus Reviews:

‘It should come as little surprise that creative people tend to have messy minds,’ write the authors. ‘Highly creative work blends together different elements and influences in the most novel, or unusual, way, and these wide-ranging states, traits, and behaviors frequently conflict with each other within the mind of the creative person, resulting in a great deal of internal and external tension throughout the creative process.’

And, Christie Aschwanden, New York Times, offers this interesting point about one of the above habits of mind (from Wired to Create):

While creative people run the gamut of personalities, Dr. Kaufman’s research has shown that openness to experience is more highly correlated to creative output than I.Q., divergent thinking or any other personality trait. This openness often yields a drive for exploration, which ‘may be the single most important personal factor predicting creative achievement,’ the authors write.

Selected Quotes from Wired to Create

Creative people are hubs of diverse interests, influences, behaviors, qualities, and ideas—and through their work, they find a way to bring these many disparate elements together.

As with happiness, it seems that the more you strive for creativity, the less likely you are to achieve it.

The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.

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