Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Norman Rockefeller, and Jane Austen—all very different people spanning the course of history, yet they all possessed one common quality. Creativity. Thanks to their creativity, we have lightbulbs, iPhones, nostalgic art, and beloved novels.
Who are today’s creative minds? Are you one of them? If you identify with these five statements, then you too possess the groundbreaking quality of creativity.
1. You work alone
Creative output requires deep focus. You simply can’t deal with distractions or multi-tasking; to produce your best work, you have to be “all there.” Biographer James Gleick studied two highly esteemed creative physicists, Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman, and found that though these men were opposites in many ways, they were similar in at least one. They both worked alone.
When working creatively, you’re bringing something to life from deep inside you, and it takes your complete focus to pull it out in just the right way.
2. You identify with your creations
Scott Barry Kaufman, author and psychologist from New York University, explained to Huffington Post that “Creative expression is self-expression. Creativity is nothing more than an individual expression of your needs, desires and uniqueness.”
This definition explains why it can physically hurt when people don’t enjoy or “get” your work. It’s why authors slightly cringe each time they open an email from a publisher, nervous about what’s inside.
Simply put, your work is a piece of you. Displaying your work, is an act of vulnerability, because you’re displaying the deepest parts of you.
3. You often daydream and people-watch
You constantly get accused of zoning out. It’s so easy to mentally slip into another world and get carried away with possibilities, questions, and ideas that you don’t always notice when you do it. Often, letting your mind wander like this energizes you.
You observe everything around you. Life itself simply fascinates you – the new, the old, the why’s and how’s, the people, the sounds, and how it all fits together.
Because of this fascination with the world, your inspiration comes from literally everywhere. Your observant mind picks up on little things others would view as inconsequential, and your mind starts spinning it into a thousand different possibilities. You probably even keep a running list of ideas on hand, so you can record them as soon as inspiration strikes.
Writer Henry James praised this kind of constant observation and declared we should “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!”
4. Creating drains you
You create for hours at a time and are utterly exhausted afterward. Your work becomes a trance—you’re physically and mentally bound to it and cannot tear yourself away until something inside you lets go first. Sometimes you even ignore basic needs like food and water, because your creative passion has you wrapped around its little finger.
Other people don’t understand how you can be so tired after staying in one place all day – literally, in one exact place all day – and you may sometimes wonder too.
The truth is, expending vast amounts of mental and emotional energy can be just as tiring as physical work. After literally pouring yourself out onto your canvas or keyboard you need time to replenish your energy and rest your mind.
Consider Merriam-Webster’s definition of create: “To produce (something new, such as a work of art) by using your talents and imagination.” Making something out of nothing is rarely easy. When artists call their work their “child,” they’re referring not only to a natural identification with it, but also to a birthing process in creating it – one that’s hardly easy.
As Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” The same can be said for all forms of creative art. You endure the mental anguish, because it’s a vital part of doing what you love. Once you successfully bring your thoughts to life, the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment and pride in your work makes it all worthwhile.
5. You crave your art
You experience a real urge to create something, just like you experience an urge to eat chocolate or binge-watch Netflix. And those work cravings are equally as hard to ignore as the chocolate ones. (Which can prove interesting, as they don’t always come within normal work hours.) The ideas buzz inside your head so loudly and frantically that it’s almost painful not to pour them out. The work demands to be done – to be written, to be designed, to be voiced – and resisting that demand drives you crazy.
To be honest, you don’t consider your work to be work at all – it’s a natural extension of you, something you love and crave, something that drips from you so naturally that you know it’s what you were made to do.
If you’re a creative person, embrace your creativity! Learn how to nurture it and provide the atmosphere it needs to thrive. There’s no telling what you may create.