We look up to highly creative people. They just have a way of doing things that move us and make us see life in a different way.
But what is it that sets them apart from the rest?
Well, there are just some things that most of us don’t know, but every single highly creative person understands.
And in this article, I will share with you 10 of them.
1) Creativity is more than the output
When most people consume art—whether that be listening to music on the radio or looking at paintings in the Versailles— they’ll appreciate the final product itself.
That sounds like it simply makes sense, and it does. After all, what else are you supposed to do if you like a piece of art?
But for highly creative people, art isn’t just the final product everyone else gets to experience. It’s also the process—the journey the artist takes as they put their creation together piece by piece.
2) Skill is just as important as creativity
Highly creative people know that creativity on its own doesn’t actually get anything done.
What good is a mind full of ideas if they can’t actually express any of their ideas in the real world?
If they must be anything more than idle daydreamers, creatives also need skill. And so, they spend a lot of time trying to improve their own skills in hopes they can properly share their fantasies with the world.
Many creative people would insist that they can create not because they are born with talent, but because they developed their skills.
And there’s truth to this.
Talent is a head-start at best, and many amazing creatives actually only realized what they’re capable of once they started developing their skills.
3) There is no cheat sheet to success
There are things we can do to boost our creativity, like always getting inspired from other creatives and working on our craft every single day.
We push it further by learning about creative processes and techniques, broadening our perspectives by listening to people’s lived experiences.
But while all of these help, none of these are a sure-fire cheat sheet to success.
What works for one creative might not necessarily be effective for another. What might help someone with their technique might actually be harmful to another.
So highly creative people might try to learn from others, but they’ll never insist that they have ‘cracked the code’ on how to be creative and productive.
4) It’s never going to be perfect…and that’s alright
Something that highly creative people quickly realize as they keep on expressing their creativity is that there’s no such thing as “perfect”, only “good enough.”
The reason why they say “Great art is never finished, only abandoned” is that there’s no such thing as perfection, especially when doing something creative.
Of course, many of them will start off trying to chase after perfection, or at least what they believe to be perfection. But sooner or later they’ll realize that trying to be perfect is an impossible task.
They would perhaps reach a point where they’d think “there, that’s done,” only to step back and realize there’s something missing.
If they keep on trying to be perfect, they’ll never actually finish anything, and so at some point they need to stop and decide it’s “good enough.”
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
5) A little introspection goes a long way
Even the most creative person runs out of juice every so often.
They can’t be highly creative all the time and there really are just times when they just…can’t.
There’s no sure-fire way to break out of this rut, but one of the things that do help is introspection.
Sometimes they simply need a little inspiration every now and then, and stopping for a moment to catch their breath and think deeply does just that.
In other words, if they’re not inspired, they think. They’ll reassess what they’ve done and go “Hmm, does this really work?” or “How can I make this better?”
And sometimes, they’ll let their minds wander.
From finding new connections between old ideas and seeing those old ideas in a new light to snatching brand new ideas out of the ether, introspection can do a surprising lot to help creative people stay creative.
6) Rules are meant to be broken
Anyone who’s ever tried dabbling in any kind of creative pursuit will quickly find themselves learning “rules” on how to be creative.
Musicians will learn about music theory, and illustrators will be taught color theory and the rules of composition.
These rules are useful and any aspiring creative should learn them—there’s no questioning that.
But the thing with highly creative people is that they don’t treat these rules as if they’re unbreakable laws. They understand why they exist, and then treat them as mere suggestions.
Ultimately they’re meant to be guides. They’re there to help the creative put their art together, but can be disregarded if needed.
7) Creation is personal and intimate
Truly creative people don’t just create because it will earn them “likes” and compliments online or make them famous.
They create for their own personal satisfaction, and there’s always a little bit of themselves in every single one of their creations.
Fame, friendship, and adoration are just a consequence of them sharing their creations to the world. But they’re never their primary goal.
They understand this is true with other highly creative people too, so when they look at others’ art, they take the time to appreciate the soul—the joy, love, hate, and despair—that the artist had poured into it.
8) It doesn’t have to be the best
Highly creative people like to experiment and take risks.
Offer them a math problem, and there’s a chance they’ll come up with their own formula instead of relying on the one taught in the classroom.
Give them some paint and instructions on what you want them to make, and they’ll try to find new ways to blend in the colors and render the illustration.
They can follow instructions to a T if they absolutely need to, but if possible they’d rather have fun doing things their own way and experimenting.
And for them, it doesn’t matter if their way is necessarily the “best” or “most efficient”—what matters is that they’re having fun doing it.
9) They can’t please everybody (and that’s how it should be)
It doesn’t matter how hard they try to make their creations as perfect as they can, there will always be haters.
In fact, they could create a masterpiece worthy of the history books and people will still find a way to complain about it.
The hard truth is that it’s simply impossible to make everybody happy and that there are just some people who get their kicks out of being haters.
So highly creative people learn to just live with the fact that haters simply exist, and to not let their hate drag them down to the muck.
As a matter of fact, most highly creative people see having haters as a good sign. It means they’re doing something different.
After all, if you please everybody, are you really being creative?
Highly creative people believe that you have to turn some people off so you can turn some people on.
10) It doesn’t have to be unique to be creative
Highly creative people don’t try to make their creations especially “unique,” and are perfectly happy with creating things that can seem almost common or overused.
There’s nothing new under the sun, after all.
To a creative person, the devil is in the details. It’s less how “unique” their idea is, and more how they personally executed said idea.
Sure, there might be millions of love songs like the one they just wrote, but that song is theirs and that’s what matters.
Many of us like to think that the secret behind why some people are highly creative is that they’re simply born gifted.
But the truth is that highly creative people are the way they are because they worked hard to be that way—from developing eyes that can see beauty from even the mundane things to building their skills.
If you don’t consider yourself a “highly creative person”, don’t be discouraged. It’s never too late. Many “superstar” artists and creatives start much later in life.
Simply nurture your creativity and learn the skills necessary for you to make art—whether it’s something that you want to exhibit at the MoMA or something you just want to keep for yourself.