Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What Highly Creative People Have in Common…Nurturing Creativity

Daniel Garber--Bayou 1935 One of the most popular posts that I tweeted last week was this one: http://zenhabits.net/creative-habit/ on Leo Babauta’s excellent Zen Habits blog.

His post, summing, up was on the number one habit of highly creative people. It was solitude.

He’d polled some creatives from a variety of different fields for the answer, but he’d also pulled examples from the past, like:

Picasso: “Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” Sandburg: “One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude.” Mozart: “When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer–say, traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal or during the night when I cannot sleep–it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.”

I think solitude is definitely important for a creative person to collect his thoughts and brainstorm ideas.

Sometimes, it’s hard to come by, especially if you have a family around you.

I’ve found, though, that even when I go out to write and I’m around people I don’t know, I feel like I’m in solitude enough to be creative. It’s only when the people are interacting with me that it’s a problem.

Another interesting part of his post was the number two habit of highly creative people—participation.

Babauta says this participation comes in different forms: connecting with others, being inspired by others, reading others, collaborating with others.

He does ask the question how we manage solitude plus the need for participation. His answer was to schedule separate time for both, which I can definitely see:

But how can you have both solitude and participation? They obviously have to come at different times. Finding the balance is key, of course, but it takes a conscious effort: this time is for solitude, and this time is for participation.

Why are they both important? We need inspiration from without, but we need creation from within.

Something that I’ve noticed with myself, though, and what I wanted to bring up here because I think it’s a shared trait of most writers is that I carry my solitude along WITH me..

I have a feeling of apartness…not loneliness…when I’m out in a coffeehouse or a public place. I’m the observer, I’m the note taker. I’m soaking it all in, but running it through the writing lens.

Most of the writers I know are happy to sit on the edges of a group or gathering and watch the people. We’re less happy being the center of attention—you can’t observe life as well when all eyes are on you. We’re the perfect bystanders.

But, to a certain degree, I do get a lot of ideas and a lot of inspiration when I’m out in public and around other people (who are frequently potential characters). But I’m more inspired if I’m not participating or interacting with them. I guess I’m being inspired by the people, frequently without making a connection with them.

What’s your take on the subject? Do you find more inspiration in solitude or through participation? Both? And do you prefer your time alone more than your time spent with others (at least, when it comes to creative inspiration)?