Creative People

Creative people

This week we are republishing a post by our friend and PATW member Bruce Dodson. Originally published in June 2021, soon after we reached light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel. (Hence the reference in the last paragraph.)

Creative people have a mind that never slows down.

The creative mind is a non-stop machine fueled by intense curiosity. There is no pause button and no way to power it down. This can be exhausting at times. My personal problem with this is that it tends to go off in many directions at the same time. I’m working on a short story and come up with a great idea for a collage.

They challenge the status quo.

Two questions drive every creative person more than any others: What if? and Why not? They question what everyone else takes at face value. It’s this ability that enables creatives to redefine what’s possible.

They embrace their genius even if others don’t.

Creative individuals would rather be authentic than popular. Staying true to who they are, without compromise, is how they define success even if means being misunderstood or marginalized.

They have difficulty staying on task.

Highly creative people are energized by taking big mental leaps and starting new things. Existing projects can turn into boring slogs. Been there, done that. New ideas are more exciting. How many do you have on your mental rolodex?

They create in cycles.

Creativity has a rhythm that flows between periods of high, activity and slow times that can feel like slumps. Each period is necessary and can’t be skipped, much like the seasons, interdependent and necessary. The virus days we’ve been through have put many of us in the slump category, but it’s Spring at last, a time of rebirth and renewal.

They need time to feed their souls.

No one can drive for days on a single tank of gas. In the same way, creative people need to frequently renew their source of inspiration and energy. This often requires solitude for periods of time. This is especially true for introverts like me. And you? How much solitude do you require?

They need space to create.

Having the right environment is essential to peak creativity. It may be a studio, a coffee shop, or a quiet corner of the house. Wherever it is, allow them to set the boundaries and respect them. What is your favorite place to write?

They focus intensely.

Highly creative people tune the entire world out when they’re focused on work. They cannot multi-task effectively and it can take twenty minutes to re-focus after being interrupted, even if the interruption was only twenty seconds. I think we’ve all had this experience—more than once.

They feel deeply.

Creativity is about human expression and communicating deeply. It’s impossible to give what you don’t have, and you can only take someone as far as you have gone yourself. Someone said a writer must scream at the page if they want a whisper to be heard. A creative person must feel deeply in order to communicate deeply.

They live on the edge of joy and depression.

Because they feel deeply, highly creative people often can quickly shift from joy to sadness or even depression. A sensitive heart, while the source of brilliance, is also the source of suffering. The thrill of an acceptance letter and the momentary sadness of rejection. Neither last for long.

They think and speak in stories.

Facts seldom move the heart as much as fiction can. Creative people, especially artists, know this and weave stories into everything they do. It takes longer for them to explain something, explaining isn’t the point. The experience is.

They battle Resistance every day.

Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, writes: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

Creative people wake up every morning, fully aware of the need to grow and push themselves. There is always the fear, Resistance as Pressfield calls it, that we don’t have what it takes. No matter how successful the person, that fear never goes away. The artist simply learns to deal with it.

They take their work personally.

Creative work is a raw expression of the person who created it. Often, they aren’t able to separate themselves from it, so every critique is seen either as a validation or condemnation of their self-worth. I think creative criticism is more helpful than praise in the long run, but praise puts fuel into a writer’s tank—enables us to go the distance.

They have a hard time believing in themselves.

Even a self-confident creative person often wonders, Am I good enough? They constantly compare their work with others and all too often fail to see our own brilliance, which may be obvious to others.

They are deeply intuitive.

Science still fails to explain the How and Why of creativity. Yet, creative individuals flow in to it time and again. They will tell you that it can’t be understood, only experienced firsthand.

They often use procrastination as a tool.

Creatives are notorious procrastinators. Some do their best work under pressure. They subconsciously, and sometimes purposefully, delay their work until the last minute in order to experience the rush of the challenge.

They are addicted to creative flow.

The flow state is an addictive experience. The mental and emotional payoff is why highly creative people will suffer through the highs and lows of creativity. It’s the staying power. In a real sense, they are addicted to the thrill of creating.

They have difficulty finishing projects.

The initial stage of the creative process is fast moving and charged with excitement, but some will abandon projects that are too familiar in order to experience the initial flow that comes with a new beginning.

They connect dots better than others.

Steve Jobs said, “True creativity, is little more than connecting the dots. It’s seeing patterns before they become obvious to everyone else.”

May we all connect the dots this summer as we leave the darkness of these virus days we have survived. Wishing you all a rebirth of creative energy inspiration.

If you liked reading this, you may also enjoy PATW member Debbie Hubbard’s My Artist’s Way, or Guest blogger Rachel Tauber’s Finding a Hyphen.


Steven Pressfield on Wikipedia:

For a fuller take on the Steve Jobs quote:

Illustration: Original picture by Mohamed Hassan (used under the Pixabay license):


  1. ” It’s impossible to give what you don’t have, and you can only take someone as far as you have gone yourself. ” That rings very true. I worked as a life coach some years ago, in the days when life coaching hadn’t been dumbed-down to the standardised therapy it is today. So often, clients needed my personal experience of trauma or tragedy. It began to seem as though I’d suffered in order to do the work.
    And so when I began searching for a new career, I thought of all my life experience, much of which I’d caught in written cameos, and thought ‘I can use it all again, but not face-to-face this time.’ Romance – the stuff of hope, passion and endeavour – gave me the platform to do that.
    How to give the benefit of that experience while steering clear of intrusion, that is the tricky bit. Coaches now do it by staying behind a professional shield of remaining impersonal, but the old school was to be inspirational. And so should writing be, the words, but not the author, should leap forward to grab the reader.

  2. One of the things I like about this article is the positive spin it puts on traits I see in myself that I think of as negative. Until I read this, I never thought of my procrastination as a tool! I shall try to do so in future.

    I’m not sure how others will react to that, though. 🙂

  3. I have just come to the conclusion that I may be a creative after having read this article. The reason for this is that I recognised so many of my traits. Many thanks for this, Bruce.

  4. “Creativity has a rhythm that flows between periods of high, activity and slow times that can feel like slumps.”

    It’s good to have confirmation that others go through cycles of creativity. I think I’m lucky in that my creativity in writing, and in composing tend to alternate, and when they do so I avoid those periods of depression that most or all us creative people are subject to at times.
    It made me think too about procrastination, but I’ll leave writing about that for another time…

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