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9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People

Posted By Darren Rowse 9th of May 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Creativity-1Yesterday I looked at 5 methods for being creative. Today I’d like to look at some attitudes to build into your approach if you want to be a more creative person:

1. Curiosity

I’ve written previously on the topic of curiosity because I’m convinced that it is an essential skill to build as a blogger. Learning to ask ‘why’, ‘what if’ and ‘I wonder…’ are great questions to build into your life if you want to be a more creative person.

2. Seeing Problems as Interesting and Acceptable

ChallengeOne of the problems of the Western mindset is that we often see problems or obstacles in life as unacceptable parts of life. We avoid pain or suppress it when it comes and in doing so don’t often see and feel symptoms that are there to tell us something important. Creative people see problems as a natural and normal part of life – in fact they often have a fascination with problems and are drawn to them.

3. Confronting Challenge

Many of the most creative ideas through out history have come from people facing a challenge or crisis and rather than running from it asking ‘how can I overcome this’?

4. Constructive Discontent

Creative people often have an acute awareness of what’s wrong with the world around them – however they are constructive about this awareness and won’t allow themselves to get bogged down in grumbling about it – they take their discontent and let it be a motivation to doing something constructive.

5. Optimism

OptimismCreative people generally have a deeply held belief that most (if not all) problems can be solved. No challenge is too big to be overcome and no problem cannot be solved (this doesn’t mean they’re always happy or never depressed – but they don’t generally get stumped by a challenge).

6. Suspending Judgment

The ability to hold off on judging or critiquing an idea is important in the process of creativity. Often great ideas start as crazy ones – if critique is applied too early the idea will be killed and never developed into something useful and useable. (note – this doesn’t mean there is never a time for critique or judgement in the creative process – it’s actually key – but there is a time and place for it).

7. Seeing Hurdles as leading to improvements and solutions

HurdlesThis relates to some of the above – but by ‘hurdles’ I mean problems and mistakes in the creative process itself. Sometimes it’s on the journey of developing an idea that the real magic happens and it’s often out of the little problems or mistakes that the idea is actually improved.

8. Perseverance

Creative people who actually see their ideas come to fruition have the ability to stick with their ideas and see them through – even when the going gets tough. This is what sets apart the great from the good in this whole sphere. Stick-ability is key.

9. Flexible Imagination

FlexibleI love watching a truly creative person at work when they’re ‘on fire’. They have this amazing ability to see a problem or challenge and it’s many potential solutions simultaneously and they have an intuitive knack at being able to bring previously disconnected ideas together in flashes of brilliance that seem so simple – yet which are so impossible to dream up for the average person.

Is Creativity tied to Personality Type or Can it be Learned?

As I read through this list of traits of creative people – the question that I find myself asking is whether creativity is tied to personality type or whether it can be learned.

My own uneducated answer to this question is – ‘yes’.

Some people are just creative – they don’t train themselves to think like they do and they often don’t even know that they are any different from the rest of us – it’s just who they are.

However I believe that we can all enhance our ability to be creative over time.

Tomorrow I’m going to round off this mini-series of posts on creativity by suggesting a few practical things that those of us wanting to enhance our creativity might build into our lives.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Nice post Darren. I’m especially taken with point 6 :

    6. Suspending Judgement

    The ability to hold off on judging or critiquing an idea is important in the process of creativity. Often great ideas start as crazy ones – if critique is applied too early the idea will be killed and never developed into something useful and useable

    I’ve always found creative people to be non-judgemental during the development phase, whether it be webdesign or the way you decorate your living room – they understand that to get to the final result, sometimes you have to take a path that is less obvious.

    This means that sometimes you need to learn, sometimes you need to be patient, and sometimes you need to accept that what you percive to be the final outcome may not be the same as everyone else.

    My moto whenever anyone has critiqued (negatively) my work (normally rightly, sometimes in my view wrongly) is that ‘opinions are like ****holes, everyones got one’ and therefore not to be taken back by their thoughts but to take on board their view and apply it to whatever I’m doing, if appropriate. I do try abd ensure anyone offering criticism understands (if applicable) that they are not viewing the final result, but a transient work in progress that may differ from the end result.

  2. Creativity works everywhere…
    “9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People” is a good motivational post..

  3. “However I believe that we can all enhance our ability to be creative over time.”

    I’ve experienced that and I think more out of the box now than I ever did. I’ve observed and and learned mostly all of life’s main lessons by observation, especially the ability to think creatively.

  4. […] k_pak via ProBlogger […]

  5. By the way, Darren, you made my list of blogger salaries, only since you cheekily say that you make “5 figures” per month, I had to guesstimate your salary anywhere from $120K – $1.20 million or something per year.

  6. i love the related images next to your ideas. carefully thought of and they just look good.

    i believe that creativity can be nurtured. let’s say in a school environment. some schools *i can’t say the name or i’ll be subject to public ridicule* somehow ban creativity, i’ve heard from my friends that they just came from schools that made them more creative in all aspects of their life.

  7. Probably my experience in education in the U.S. is that students are generally taught not to be creative. Through high school the emphasis was always on rote memorization and regurgitation of “facts” rather than critical analysis or independent thinking.

  8. I also love the creativity that you’ve shown my matching the relevant, eye-catching images with each point you made in your post. I am working on incorporating more creative and relevant images into my posts, as well.

    I do believe that there are those who are born creative, however everyone does have that creative, “right brain” side that they can develop. It takes a concerted effort and you still may not be as naturally creative as other people, but you can bring it out.

  9. Great post! A classic for many fields.

  10. On further thought, there’s probably a worthwhile book in this post alone.

  11. The last couple of posts on creativity have been really great, Darren. I mean, speaking on the subject of creativity alone has definitely made at least one person here feel a little more creative, right? Awesome and effective forum, man — I can’t wait for your next post.

  12. Along with the attitudes of creative people must be an environment that permits, supports and even nutures creativity. After nearly 35 year in nuclear energy — an industry most would not see as nurturing creativity — I retired earlier this year. As an instructor for most of those years, I was fortunate most of the time that my management permitted and even encouraged to be creative. On annual performance reviews, my creativity was usually cited as a strength.

    Unfortunately, over time, the work environment became less and less nurturing for any kind of creative process with the addition of all sorts of new requirements and burdens that did nothing to enhance the core business of training the workers. It became more and more difficult to present the same old topics in new and different ways to make it an interesting learning experience.

    The most creative person in the world will have a hard time being creative in the wrong environment.

  13. “Is Creativity tied to Personality Type or Can it be Learned?” I’m not really sure what the answer to this question is. One thing I do know, however, is that creativity is one of the positive traits of people with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder.)

    Throughout history, adults with ADD have been artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs. I’ve never had a client or friend with ADD who wasn’t highly creative in one way or another!

  14. Estimados,

    Quisiera alguien me diferenciara entre:

    Imaginación flexible sobre la imaginación superflua.

  15. […] creative all you have to do may be as simple as changing your attitude! Below is an article from ProBlogger telling the “9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People”: 1. […]

  16. Great analysis of creative people.

    I have a slightly off topic question. How do you get ECTO to display the link to the flickr photos you put in your post? I haven’t been able to figure this out yet.

    thank you!

  17. AgentSully – I just edit it manually before posting and make the image a link to the flickr page.

  18. I definitely agree that creativity can be self-taught, mainly because I am constantly teaching myself to be more creative. The first step is to suspend your fear of failure and then everything else follows (that should be on the list, by the way).

  19. Great ideas straight from a creative person himself. It just goes to show that being creative takes work as well rather than just coming up with ideas.

    A very practical work and I am making this as the “Post of the Day” for my “Post Awards” blog.


  20. […] Heres something interesting: 9 Attitudes of Highly Creative people […]

  21. I particularly agree with #2 (Seeing Problems as Interesting and Acceptable). I get bored far too easily if I don’t have a good problem to challenge me.

    A lot of people I know get overwhelmed over simple problems. I usually see them as a chance to learn how to do something new, especially with computer problems.

  22. is it creative to use someone’s creative photograph without linking or giving credit or is that just douchebaggy?

    might be creative douchebaggotry, but then again, it might just be the complete abscence of creativity. perhaps even the theft of creativity.

    anyway, i’m glad you thought my photgraph represented creativity, but maybe your next article about blogging should be about linking and passing along due credit.


  23. btw, if i seem bugged it’s because i’m naturally an asshole. it’s a gift. in reality i don’t really care.


  24. a wonderful post darren. though i think this entire list is dead on, i specifically resonate with trait number four. the great philosophers of antiquity all shared in this quality, and for some reason Plato jumps out in my mind specifically.

    someone once said, “…the only thing we require to be great philosophers is the faculty of wonder.”

  25. merkley??? – apologies man. I had linked to it but left out a character in the code and it didn’t go live. Have remedied it. I always link back to the source of pics (when I’m seeing straight) and only used it as it was such a great shot.

  26. ha ha — i love giving shit.

  27. I think people can learn to be creative once they stop being a control freak. People are so afraid these days of just letting their path lead them, that they end up being unhappy and unfulfilled. Ever since I just let the wind take me where I am supposed to go, I have been filled with blessings in my life and…more creativity, because I know there is no end!

  28. It seems to me that people who are creative are also stuck in their own world. They are constantly thinking about how to get things done. Like web designers, and graphic designers are constantly challenged to be creative, and their creative mind is always thinking that, “Oh what if I put that extra line by that word”… so, what I am trying to say is, constantly thinking about your visions is also an attitude of highly creative people.

  29. […] at the creative process, whether it’s art, music, tech, problem solving, ministry, etc. Check out this article on “9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People” – the author poses the question, “Can Creativity be learned, or is it just a natural […]

  30. […] the one who has to solve every problem and handle every situation.  I like this post on the “9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People” from the Problogger […]

  31. renota says: 05/09/2007 at 2:14 pm

    Yes, I agree. As a creative person I’d say this article is bang on. And yes there are environments out there that suppress it, but there’s always another one around the bend that may not ;) The world is not always kind to the creative, sadly it seems to value and encourage conformity. Then someone bucks the trend and everyone looks around amazed and, sadly, gratified.
    I do agree that people seem to be born with an inclination towards creativity that childhood in general nurchers. However, a truly creative person doesn’t see rank in creativity either (#6). Heaven alone knows where the inspiration for your next idea comes from; you may end up building on someone else’s idea! So, in a way, that makes us all equals. Whether you come up w the idea or you inspire someone else to do so, you’ve still contributed to a solution that takes us a step forward. And that’s all good.
    Even if you have it you have to nurture it and grow it. But it’s fun and it keeps you happy to be alive. Life becomes one grand adventure. ;)

  32. Aaron says: 05/09/2007 at 3:54 pm

    “One of the problems of the Western mindset is that we often see problems or obstacles in life as unacceptable parts of life.”

    Exactly which cultural mindsets out there do not see problems as obstacles or unacceptable? It seems to me that if a problem isn’t an obstacle and is not unacceptable, it isn’t really a problem :)

    Perhaps you mean that you think people shy away from problems without wanting to confront them. Thats certainly true, and a good point, but is a general human condition, and not specific to Western civilization.

    Also, I disagree strongly with your #6. I am a highly creative person but also highly judgmental. Critiquing ideas at all times is very important. Creation is like walking a path in your mind, it is a continuous process, and your active critiques keep you on a path that means something.

    Otherwise since the number of crazy + stupid ideas far out number crazy + good ideas, you are going to waste a lot of time following crazy paths that you haven’t really thought about, and that you will realize on belated reflection are actually, in fact, quite stupid. :)

    Creativity is a complex human quality that is a combination of many other things. Some parts can’t be learned easily, like imagination, but others, like knowing lots of stuff, can be.

    You want to be more creative: read lots of books. A large part of being creative is combining concepts. If you have few concepts, you can’t hope to be creative.

  33. Thanks fpr the post, Darren

    Team spirit could be another attitudes of highly creative people


  34. Aaron – you have rewritten that first point well – although I personally don’t see some problems as unacceptable at all – I’m learning to see them in a much more positive light.

    On the judgment thing – you might want to reread what I wrote – I actually wrote about ‘suspended judgment’ and finished the paragraph with a sentence saying that I wasn’t against being judgmental (I said that it was key) but having the ability to suspend judgment until the right time.

    My own creative process is to have periods of bluesky thinking followed by periods of critique/judgment and tweaking of the ideas. However I find that if I start the dreaming stage with more of a ‘judging’ frame of mind that the ideas don’t come.

  35. Miguel says: 05/09/2007 at 5:22 pm

    I actaully truly believe anything is possible, but there are limits. That’s the way I think.

  36. You know how some ad agencies and even production studios, like Pixar, constantly surround themselves with fun activities and toys for their employees? It’s just like what a fellow commentator said — creativity also depends on one’s environment. And that bit about suspending one’s fear of failure…I totally agree. You can certainly come up with the best, most creative things when you let your guard down more often.

  37. […] Gochnauer sent this link along to an article written about “9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People“. I think I could probably improve in all of these categories except for the “likes to […]

  38. […] 9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People – ok so I need to work on positivity, without turning into Ned Flanders Mk II […]

  39. […] Problogger I found this interesting post about 9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People, in fact I’m sure […]

  40. […] and how to be a more creative blogger (see the previous posts on the creative process and attitudes of creative people). The first part explored methods of creativity, yesterday I shared some attitudes of creative […]

  41. […] 9 Attitudes of Creative People I think my favorite is “constructive discontent.” […]

  42. […] Darren Rowse, a leading blogger and blog consultant, had a post today titled “9 Attitudes of H… […]

  43. As an artist I fit under all of those except “suspending judgment.” Tell you the truth, the lack of the ability actually inhibits making it anywhere and damages my self esteem. I think that all of these really coincide with each other

  44. […] Rowse from problogger wrote a blog entry titled 9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People. Optimism was listed #5 and he included this image from Flicker, which I think sums it up pretty […]

  45. Mark Libucha says: 05/10/2007 at 6:25 am

    #10 Oblivious to the laughter of others.

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