Ever wondered if your endlessly curious attitude was a gift or a curse? What about your irrepressible desire for “me” time – is that a good or a bad thing? Well, whilst there might not be a definitive answer to those questions, what can be said is that if you do possess traits such as these, they may well indicate that you are a creative genius!
Some of society may raise their eyebrows at your quirky ways, but they’re actually something to be cherished. So, before you start making any rapid judgements of yourself for possessing these special qualities, discover 9 intriguing traits of a creative genius, and see how well you can relate.
1. Being introspective
“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung. Creativity is often platformed on pensive moments – thinking about your own life, summarising your experiences and collating them into a mental portfolio, slowly piecing it all together in order to know how to one day bring it to life. This type of self-awareness and ability to think critically was exhibited by the famous novelist, Charles Dickens, who would walk for miles simply to dive into his own mind. These walks along the Broadstairs coastline even provided him with narratives for some of his books! If you share this introspective quality, you also possess an important trait of a creative genius.
2. Enjoying being alone and having “me” time
In order to be introspective, you need time to catch up with yourself – to discuss everything you’ve acquired and make a plan of action. Others may call you a bit of a hermit, but most people who are creative thoroughly enjoy their alone time. It’s where they can finally be themselves.
3. Having motivation for projects through the work itself
Leonard Da Vinci once said, “Knowing is not enough – we must apply. Being willing is not enough – we must do.” and who could argue with the words of an artist whose notoriety has stood the test of time? Whilst the majority of people require incentives to work, such as money, fame or societal recognition, true creative geniuses are marked by having great motivation because they find the work itself intrinsically rewarding. Have you ever composed music just to get the tune out of your head? That habit is one example of this. Many geniuses, though, are often misunderstood, and it’s only in hindsight that we see their talent. Such as Vincent Van Gogh, whose work finally received real recognition a whole century after his passing. Most creative projects, such as paintings or written prose, are not always recognised as an achievement straight away (if ever) So, it’s fortunate that the driving force for the creative genius is solely for their work’s completion, rather than for any acclaimed status.
4. Approaching problems from a number of angles
So many alternative approaches can be stifling when it comes to making the “right” decision or needing an immediate solution. Jumping to conclusions isn’t something you’re able to do, which is why most creative geniuses will temporarily shelve issues if the solution isn’t forthcoming. And yet, ironically, it’s as though by placing the problem on the shelf is exactly when the solution emerges. Have you ever experienced this? This is known as incubation. Completely random activities, such as daydreaming, playing or conversing, seem to trigger the perfect solution from the unconscious mind. These somewhat trivial activities seem to help provide the creative mind with a fresh set of retrieval cues, which then finally yield the perfect approach.
5. Thinking of more than one answer
Talking of approaching problems, because of this ability to see things from many varied angles, you often find that there’s more than one answer. So, for example, the perfect 2-week Tokyo holiday itinerary. You take into account many factors, such as who the holidaymaker is, what they like visiting, what time of year it is, what’s their budget, what food do they like etc., to create an itinerary for them. Ultimately, there is no universal fit for this – no single direction to reach that perfect answer. This empathetic ability to approach things from many directions is known as divergent thinking. As opposed to convergent, divergent thinkers can facilitate many varied thoughts (also known as “fluency” – Charles Spearman, 1930) which is often why they can then, in turn, create so many wonderfully unique ideas (and why you could possibly make an excellent trip advisor!)
6. Learning about a variety of different subjects
Has anyone looked to you as a walking encyclopedia? Perhaps you’ve even felt like a bit of a “Jack of all trades” person, as soaking up knowledge for many different subjects is undeniably fascinating to you. In fact, making these new associations can even make you feel rather excited! Your propensity to learn is one of the deciding factors for your creative output, and this yearning to understand many topics rather than to specialise in one is known as lateral thinking. Unlike vertical thinkers, your mind thrives by developing a solid foundation for an array of subjects. There’s no singular topic or genre that you stick to. You thoroughly enjoy learning, in all its facets. Hence, why your bookshelf looks like a mini library!
SIDE NOTE: Creative individuals experience high dopamine levels whilst making these associations. Also known as the “happy hormone”, high levels of this neurotransmitter have been argued as a precondition of a genius (Hans Eysenck) So long as the individual experiencing this can also manage a level of control with these newfound perceptions, sensations and associations – something of which creative people can.
7. Loving to read
Speaking of mini-libraries, it stands to reason that falling out of our reality and into the ones amongst the pages fills you with joy. No wonder most creative geniuses are also notorious daydreamers! Whether it’s a fictional world of fighting dragons or falling in love with a movie star, to donning the crampons for a non-fictional hike up snowy Mount Everest, your mind has a lot of interesting places to wander to. Is curling up with a good book a part of your day? If so, there’s almost undoubtedly a creative genius potential within you.
8. Using both the left and right side of the brain
Have you ever found that the sheer abundance of information you’ve taken in has rendered you so inspired that you need to offload? For example, has what you’ve learned about Mount Everest and your innate passion for writing given your hands a reason to create a narrative masterpiece set amongst the Himalayas? As previously said, this kind of project is not only intrinsically rewarding, it is also imperative to make part of a creative geniuses’ reality. What goes in must come out – creatively speaking. So, if you often find yourself engaging with activities that facilitate the use of left-brain (the methodical and analytical side) with right-brain activity (the creative and artistic side), you have potential to be a highly creative person. Writing is one such activity. As structuring the perfect story requires not only engaging with emotions and visual concepts, but also requires some strategic thinking, in order to create a well-written plot.
SIDE NOTE: We are all brain-ambidextrous (able to engage with both sides of the brain), but it is also scientifically noted that we can be dominated by one hemisphere more than the other.
9. Identifying which creations are worth your time
Creative geniuses have minds like sponges, soaking up surplus amounts of knowledge, and then having to work out how to squeeze it all out. This means that they have the tough task of deciding which parts they’ve taken in are worth expelling creatively. Although creative work in itself is enriching, no one has time for everything, and so having the ability to discriminate – to know which associations to keep, which to pursue and which to reject – is absolutely vital. You know that you can’t invest in everything you learn, so you have to prioritise and accept that not everything you’ve taken in can stay there or be used. As much as you’d love to remember everything, it’s simply not possible. The human side of a creative genius reminds them of that.
So, did you find yourself identifying with any of the traits in the list above? Then take a moment to hold your head high. The way you think may be different from the norm, but your quirky mind is actually pretty neat! As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be Yourself; everyone else is already taken.”