In part I, (The Creative Mind) on the creatives series, I mentioned that there are some commonalities in a creative’s makeup and personality. I’ve broken down these common traits into six categories.
2. Time Bandits
4. Head Games
5. Entrepreneurial Spirit
Whether you consider this an insight to a creative’s mind or an observation, the following are common traits of creatives.
1. Daydreamers – most creatives are prone to daydreaming. Despite what mom and the primary school teachers may have said, daydreaming is anything but a waste of time. Letting your mind wander can assist the birthing of new ideas. Although our best ideas seemingly come out of the blue, allowing your mind to ponder the what ifs, the why, the hows, whens, whos, or just imagining an exciting new location can in fact plant seeds of ideas in that mental garden. Then ‘suddenly’ an idea will burst forth.
Neuroscientists have studied brain activity during daydreaming sessions of patients and have determined that it is a highly involved brain activity.
The observer sees someone staring off into space, on a focal point somewhere out there, somewhere they can’t see. The daydreamer knows that their mind is anything but idle during this time. I’ve had people ask me how do I shut my mind off like that. Excuse me? They really don’t get it. Part of the reason a daydreaming student is so distracted from the current lesson in a classroom is because of the video playing out inside their head of whatever topic sparked the daydream.
If you’ve never experienced this, this may be a scary process for you. I’ll attempt to verbalize a daydreaming session. I was sitting in a mortgage originator’s class where the instructor was talking about the most recent changes to the Frank-Dodd law. Dry material even for a mortgage originator.
Instructor: As you are probably well aware by now, the Dodd-Frank Act was enacted into law in response to the abuse that was present in the mortgage loan market that was largely responsible for the collapse of the financial system in 2008.
My Mind: “ Someone has to go to jail Ben.” ( line from the movie, National Treasure.) Yeah, that’s about right, someone has to take the fall. Someone has to be responsible for the economic collapse of the nation here – and the mortgage loan officer is, of course, responsible for all the people that defaulted on their loans or bought more house than they could afford never mind the fact that the real estate broker is always pushing their clients to buy up. (Hey, don’t judge me – I’m just telling you my train of thought here. You can argue with my logic some other time.)
Instructor: Our new rule will protect consumers from irresponsible mortgage lending by requiring lenders to ensure prospective buyers have the ability to repay their mortgage. The rules also protect borrowers from risky lending practices such as “no docs” and “interest only” features. . . .
My mind: But it doesn’t protect them against the media that tells them they need a bigger house, nor fix their credit issues. You can’t protect idiots from their own idiocy. We already have in place means to get QMs ( quality mortgages). Our compensation is only 3% while the realtor’s take is 6% – why are they using us as the scapegoat?
Think* think* think* Hmmmmm, well broker X was rather underhanded in some of his dealings.
OH! Hey, I could write a story about a fraud ring and a broker that’s in on it. Yeah, the realtor, the mortgage broker, the inspector all working together in a ring. Yeah, one of them could be the straw buyer, they could run a money laundering operation while they worked their house flipping, disguise the source, use offshore accounts. I think I need to write this down!
(Hence, why my license recertification manual has numerous notes in the margins with stars by them.)
Instructor: Ms. Mack, would you care to give an example of a breach of ethics in mortgage lending?
Really, he had no idea what he was getting into when he asked that question. I’m quite certain that he asked because he thought I was zoned out.
To him, it seemed that I wasn’t paying attention, but in fact, I was. It’s just that my mind was 10 steps ahead of him exploring nooks and crannies while he walked slowly down the corridor behind me. Holding my automatic assault rifle at the ready, checking every doorway- clear! Oh wait, that was the next daydream.
2. Creatives observe everything: the clothes the instructor is wearing, whether he has a t-shirt beneath his Van Heusen, the holes on the heel of his socks, the wear pattern on the sole of his shoes, a hint of Nautica classic as he paces in front of the room, the overpowering scent of Obsession from the lady sitting across the aisle from me, the nervous flicking of the pen back and forth from the guy at the back of the room, the guy on the other side of the room that keeps checking his phone for messages, (later found out his wife was admitted and going into labor with their third child). I could go on but I think you probably get the point.
All of the individuals attending this class were business professionals. I’d be willing to bet that the most detail any of them could give you was that the instructor wore a purple tie with his white shirt and suit. They were there to learn a subject, pass the class and get the credit towards renewing their license.
Creatives take in every aspect of their surroundings and taking notice of those things often lead to daydreaming. Daydreaming engages your brain, it’s not a zoned out state. The world is a creative person’s oyster — they see possibilities everywhere and are constantly taking in information that becomes fodder for creative expression. As Henry James is widely quoted, “a writer is someone on whom nothing is lost”.
For anyone that decides to peak at my notebooks, it’s a confusing jumble of thoughts, observations, comments, quotes, bits of information. It has meaning for me, it wasn’t intended for any other audience. My notebooks are a collection of raw materials just as a sculptor has a bin of clay, or a hunk of marble, or whatever medium he is using.
3. People watchers
OK, for the noncreative this can be a bit freaky. Relax, we aren’t stalking you. In fact, if a creative has taken notice of you, it means they find you interesting. Again, nothing escapes a creative.
Nervous fidgeting, sniffles, subtle gestures, an awkward gate, the telltale signs of insecurity in someone trying to project confidence, clothing, jewelry, hairstyles, complexion.
Yeah, I see where it could freak people out if they realize they are being observed. Most of the time it’s just a passing glance or the brief time in an elevator, but it’s enough time for the creative to give a full report to a police officer in infinite detail. Not that anything is going to happen to the observee, just saying.
We notice manners and the lack of them. We notice speech patterns, voice inflections, colloquial dialects, slang expressions, enunciation and even volume.
4. They observe the world as a child.
They observe the world with the eyes of a child, still seeing wonder and awe in their surroundings. They see the majesty in the mountains, the magnificence of the ocean, the diversity that surrounds us each and every day. There’s a part of them that never grows up, with a sometimes naive take on things. It makes sense, of course, you have to see the beauty that surrounds you in order to convey that beauty in their own creations. Who but a creative can convey a mood on canvas? Can paint a picture with their words? Who else can transform a lump of clay into a masterpiece? They feel, deeply. They see beyond what the common observer sees. They process a tragedy, their minds working to make sense of the senseless and in so doing produce a work that brings their constituents to tears.
I believe this is one of the key secrets to being creative. Allowing their inner child free reign and time to play.
Would you call yourself a mentalist creative?
Stay tuned for the next part, Time Bandits.
Write on my friends, write on!