Highly creative people blend imagination, curiosity, and critical thinking to generate innovative ideas and solutions.
Understanding their unique approaches might be the key to unlocking your own hidden creative potential.
So without further ado, here’s what separates thriving artists, designers, authors, and other highly creative people from the rest of the pack.
1) They have a strong work ethic
Although a strong work ethic isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when we think of creative people, they understand that consistent effort and discipline are necessary to bring their ideas to fruition.
They see talent as a starting point. Everything else they accomplish is the result of blood, sweat, and tears.
Putting in the time and effort required to refine their work and overcome challenges is what separates them from the rest of the pack.
Additionally, it’s often the finishing touches that make or break the outcome. If it means spending days or weeks on them, so be it.
But can you have a strong work ethic and engage in constant daydreaming? Let’s find out.
2) They engage in daydreaming
Having a strong work ethic doesn’t mean they don’t daydream. While often seen as a waste of time, daydreaming can be incredibly beneficial for creative thinking.
It allows the mind to explore new ideas and evaluate different possibilities, encouraging creative thought.
If you don’t allow your mind to wander freely, you could be missing out on new and fresh ideas, as well as unexpected connections.
I often catch myself daydreaming as I stare into the distance. It helps me solve problems and lets me relax as I often think about unrelated things.
3) They lose track of time
Highly creative people often lose track of time, especially when they are deeply engrossed in their creative work.
This phenomenon is called “flow,” a concept popularized by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
This state of intense focus and absorption in activity is also described as being “in the zone.”
Do you ever experience this?
I love when that happens to me, and luckily it happens every day now.
I think having a process helps with this. Also, not being distracted and having a passion for something really helps.
Concentrate on the task at hand rather than the end result and enjoy the process to enter a state of flow.
4) They embrace self-expression
Creatives aren’t afraid of other peoples’ opinions. They love to express themselves as they see fit.
They embrace their uniqueness and allow their personal experiences and emotions to influence their work.
Being highly creative is a curse as much as it is a gift. If you’re out of sync with the rest of society, it can lead to feelings of isolation or alienation, as well as ridicule.
5) They are naturally curious
Being extremely curious is how you get the best engineers and chemists, for example, but also the best highly creative people.
They ask questions to understand things and to challenge them. Creatives are genuinely interested in figuring out how things work, why things are the way they are, and what could be changed to make them better.
Not accepting things at face value is one of the best qualities you can have if you think of yourself as a creative person looking for a breakthrough.
6) They notice details
Noticing details is a tremendous asset for creative individuals, allowing them to observe nuances, draw unique connections, and find inspiration in unexpected places.
As much as being a highly creative individual can be a curse, so can the ability to notice details at an extreme level.
I’m somewhat creative and have a good eye for details. However, even I find this tiring and overwhelming at times. I can only imagine what it’s like for someone with an excellent eye for detail.
Arguably the number one issue is that they find it challenging to delegate tasks to others because they fear that others might not be as thorough or meticulous as they are.
Then there are over-analysis, perfectionism, information overload, and environmental sensitivity.
That still doesn’t deter them from doing this next thing.
7) They seek new experiences
Another thing that separates highly creative people from the rest of us is that they understand that each new experience, whether it’s traveling to a new place, trying new food, or engaging with different cultures, broadens their perspectives and inspires new ideas.
They pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of their environment. Again, attention to detail comes into play.
These sensory experiences can inspire their creative work, allowing them to create more vivid and engaging art, writing, or designs.
8) They thrive in uncertainty
In most people, uncertainty causes tremendous anxiety. We’re still influenced by biology so much so that it flashes huge danger signs in the human mind.
And I can agree that not knowing when your next meal will be or where you’ll sleep tonight takes a massive toll on people in those situations.
Luckily, for most of us in the developed world, life isn’t that hard.
On the other side, some think that if a person doesn’t go through hardship, they can’t be truly creative or solve life’s big problems.
There’s something about our mind that makes it become scrappy and ingenious when under pressure.
This leads us to the next point.
9) They aren’t afraid of failure
Applying pressure seems counterintuitive when it comes to enhancing creativity and problem-solving skills. We see stress as associated with decreased cognitive function.
However, a certain amount of pressure can stimulate our minds, help build resilience, and sharpen our problem-solving abilities.
This concept is similar to the Yerkes-Dodson law, which suggests that performance improves with physiological or mental arousal (stress) but only up to a point.
What I like to do is make a public commitment by sharing my projects with friends and family. This makes me much more committed and involved, as there are eyes on me.
Many highly creative individuals are under much more scrutiny and even under the general public spotlight.
If they were afraid of failure, they wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything. However, as I already mentioned, they thrive in uncertainty and aren’t afraid to fail (spectacularly).
10) They love to experiment
Just as they aren’t afraid of failure, they also aren’t afraid to experiment and frequently question the status quo.
There’s really no getting ahead as a creative if you aren’t willing to step out of your comfort zone and work on new things.
The creative process itself involves a lot of trial and error. However, if you think that each iteration has to be a step forward, you’re greatly mistaken.
You also have to be ready to mercilessly discard your previous work.
11) They make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts
Highly creative people outclass others at making connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, concepts, or fields.
One of the best examples of that is when Albert Einstein proposed the theory of relativity by connecting space and time into a single entity now known as the spacetime continuum. This was a revolutionary concept that altered our understanding of physics.
Leonardo da Vinci is also known for making connections across many disciplines, including art, science, music, mathematics, and engineering.
12) They bask in solitude
Artists, poets, writers, and other types of creatives mostly work in solitude. Even basking in it and going out of their way to escape from other people by going into nature or secluded cabins and ateliers to work on their craft and master it.
It allows them to reflect, think deeply, and generate new ideas, as solitude provides a space for introspection, self-discovery, and the cultivation of original thoughts.
And I get it, of course. It’s taking me forever to finish this article as I’m constantly being interrupted. Maybe it’s time for me to find a snowed-in cabin.
13) They turn obstacles into opportunities
And lastly, highly creative people see obstacles as opportunities to think creatively and find innovative solutions. Obstacles fuel their imagination and force them to think outside the box.
History provides us with many examples of people who turned obstacles into opportunities.
For instance, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was a single mother living on welfare when she started writing the book series.
Think of her what you want, but it’s a fact that despite 12 (!) rejections from publishers, she continued to pursue her passion.
Her perseverance turned the obstacle of rejection into an opportunity, and Harry Potter became one of the most successful book series of all time.
I hope this article helped you understand how highly creative people think and act and that there are many things that make them stand out.
You never know what’s hiding inside you if you don’t strive to find it.