Thursday, September 11, 2008

Characteristics of Creative People

Recently I was reading an article in Psychology Today by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi about the paradoxical characteristics of creative people. I actually haven't made it past the first one because it set me thinking. Here's the first characteristic:
"This (that creative people have a lot of energy) does not mean that creative people are hyperactive, always "on." In fact, they rest often and sleep a lot. The important thing is that they control their energy; it's not ruled by the calendar, the dock, an external schedule. When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries. They consider the rhythm of activity followed by idleness or reflection very important for the success of their work. This is not a
bio-rhythm inherited with their genes; it was learned by trial and error as a strategy for achieving their goals."

I was so taken aback by the world 'control.' From my personal experience and observations, I would agree that creative people have a lot of energy and that energy intensifies when the creative juices are stirred. The image I have is that we all have a light shining inside ourselves and the more open we are, the brighter that light can shine. When we are engaged in creativity, that light is beaming out of us and into our project.

My sense is that yes, we are able to focus that light, that energy, like a laser beam but that isn't about control, it's about desire. We want to be expressing, exploring, creating and so that focus develops.

What I've seen in the people I work with and in my own life is that the key is actually about riding our energetic waves, learning our own rhythms and working with them. Perhaps what he means is more about being in control of our process rather than our energy. I definitely find I need to be in charge of following my own energy as opposed to being hemmed in by the structure of an 8-4 work day.

What do you think? As a creative person, do you control your energy? How does being in charge of your own schedule impact your creativity?


Marilyn said...

Interesting post, Jamie. I've learned over the years (since I work for awhile and then take a break) that it takes me awhile to get back into a natural rhythm. I do know this: when I get locked into an '8 to 4' routine, it very nearly saps my creative energy. To counteract that, I rise earlier and earlier to try to 'steal' some creative time, losing much-needed rest in the process. I'm a big believer in recharging not only one's batteries, but also one's creative stores by getting sufficient rest and also allowing time to nothing (productive). I really believe that we serve ourselves well when we make sure that we allow ourselves time to sit and stare off into space or daydream or talk a walk (with no destination in mind) just BE.

daisies said...

oh this makes so much sense. when i have control and order, i can focus so much better and lock into the energy inside of me ~ if i am scattered and not in control of my schedule, emotions, life ~ my energy gets used up uselessly. the older i get, the more i realize that i need a relaxed structure to my days to really enhance and focus that energy into the right places ...

Shell said...

I've tried to be more aware of the activities that inspire me and keep me flowing. I also have a tendency to keep pushing creatively when I need to take a break. So I have retaught myself to walk away and get some air even when I don't feel like it. It helps so much. Having my time to myself has revved up my creative output. Ideas and dreams are just popping up all over.

Tracy said...

I like to use my creative energies in the morning after my husband goes to work, but before the kids wake up. I do need a certain amount of order & control in able to be creative without being distracted by "stuff". And I also need to rest a lot...I take naps, listen to music, read, or sometimes just stare out of the windows watching nature.

Pink Heels said...

Fascinating perspective. I need to ponder this further before concluding its relation to my own life. Thanks for the self-reflective nature of the post!

megg said...

I WISH!! I know that if I sit down in the morning every morning, the words flow. I know it and yet I don't do it. I think that's the hardest part - giving it the time and the respect it needs.

Sacred Suzie said...

Oh my energy seems to control me. Like with my pendants, sometimes I just know I should stop by I can't seem to do it. It's like an addiction and I don't like that analogy.

I don't like the idea of controlling the energy either but that's the wild woman in me. I'd rather it was all just free free free! I don't know how realistic that is though.

Interesting idea and questions Jamie! Love the pic too.

Wendy said...

I think his use of the word "control" stems from his "scientific" approach. Psychology is learned as a science, even though we all know that psychology is an art.
That being said, I agree that we learn to control our process - not our energy.

Lock me in an 8 - 4 schedule and I wither. I cannot create on demand and I feel sorry for those who are forced to.

Put me by the ocean, sit me under a tree, scatter flowers in my path and my creative juices flow.... I march to my own own beat.
Loved this post - food for thought. I will now click on the link and read the rest of the article.

Melba said...

A key word for me is rhythm ~ I am my best self when there is a rhythm to my day...that is what helps my days Flow.
Having children really taught me that it is impossible to control everything. ~ They are so unpredictable. Life is unpredictable. I think it is helpful to me to have some type of flexible schedule, but when I try to be too strict I just get the feeling of being trapped.