Ever wondered how writers, designers and entrepreneurs optimise their innovative potential? Then read on to discover the traits and effective creative habits of some of history’s most successful people.
They work when they’re most productive
Creativity can’t always be confined to the passing hours of the office clock and the inherently artistic understand that their most productive periods might not fit into the standard 9 to 5.
Some of history’s most well known writers, painters and poets were known for their unconventional working schedules; with the darkness that comes with late nights and early mornings being the preferred conditions for many. Sylvia Plath, Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Branson are/were early risers, while T. S Elliott and Winston Churchill were both night owls.
The key to utilising these creative outpourings is to recognise when you work best and to structure your day around it. If you find you’re productivity peaks at different times of the day, then flexitime might just be the solution as it will allow you to plan your schedule around your creativity.
They follow their passion
Intrinsic motivation is the archetypal hallmark of the truly creative. Artists rarely work exclusively for money or recognition and are instead striving to appease an internal impulse that drives them to achieve.
Innate and often unexplained aspirations have for centuries driven artistic creation and some studies have shown that this desire can act as a far greater incentive than any professional benefits. Following a passion and not a pay cheque means that naturally creative workers tend to be more fulfilled in their job as well as more likely to succeed in their field.
Unfortunately, we all still need to make a living and striking a balance between financial stability and doing what we love is arguably the biggest challenge for modern day creative minds.
Teachers and employers alike have long underestimated the value of daydreaming but many psychologists have suggested that idle mindlessness is important in connecting the dots between imagination and creation.
This break from active thinking has become labelled as the ‘incubation’ period by many theorists and suggests that daydreaming (or a break of thought) prevents us from becoming too fixated on the wrong ways of solving a problem. This in turn allows us to see the wider picture and would go some way to explaining why some of our best ideas seem to arise whilst our minds are elsewhere.
Your employers might not appreciate your penchant for window gazing (especially if you don’t sit by a window) but taking a tactical break from staring at your computer might afford you that lightbulb moment to overcome a problem or creative block. As Neil Gaiman says…“you get ideas from daydreaming.”
They take creativity with them
Although opinions will differ on what makes the ideal working conditions, the grey walls of an office cubicle rarely offer the most stimulating environment for the professional creative. Fear not though as thanks to the age of free Wi-Fi, coffee shops, bars and cafes have become catalysts for big ideas and a haven for thinkers as well as caffeine drinkers. JK Rowling famously wrote much of the first Harry Potter book in an Edinburgh cafe, whilst Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley was known to develop ideas over a cappuccino in Rome.
It’s easy to forget that the likes of Ginsberg, Poe and Capote didn’t have internet connection though and sometimes just a break of scenery (be it a walk or weekend escape) can get the cerebrum juices flowing.
If you’re finding that your current surroundings are hampering your creativity then it’s time to try and splash some colour onto your professional easel. Whether you toddle off to your nearest barista, go to a library on your lunch break or just take your laptop to your favourite park bench, be assured that creativity will follow you.
They make the most of failure
Being a slave to your intuition can often lead you down some wrong paths, but creative personalities understand the importance of these ‘failures’ and will use this to fuel their future successes.
Optimistic inventive types will seldom take failure to heart and will consistently learn from their mistakes until they succeed. Failure is merely considered a small part of the creative process as it’s thought that consistently getting it wrong, is the only way to eventually get it right. As Thomas Edison once said..“I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Nobody particularly welcomes failure, but an unwavering drive backed by confidence in your abilities should be enough to naively carry you through disappointment with the tools and knowledge to eventually attain your goals. After all, you only have to be right once.
Whether it’s typing away in the dead of night or making insightful observations from a village coffee shop, there is no definitive formula for creativity. Successfully creative people aren’t all creatures of habit but are able to recognise what works best for them and build their time and space around how they’re most productive.
Though it won’t work for everyone, following some of the effective habits above might lead you to pursue new passions and finally make the most of your underutilised creative spark.