recollections of an artist

10 Habits Of Highly Creative People:

I came upon this list online today and thought I would share it.  How many of these do you do?

1. They get moving.

Composer Erik Satie walked roughly 10 kilometers from Arcueil to Paris every morning. Saul Bellow rode his mountain bike. Novelist Haruki Murakami keeps a famously intense running schedule.

2. They take naps.

OK, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a nap, but most creative people carve out time for relaxation. Take Vladimir Nabokov, who described to the New York Times a schedule that included a daily two-hour nap and 20-minute soak in a hot bath, or artist Joan Miró, who allowed himself just a five-minute nap after lunch.

3. They daydream.

A key component of making work you’re proud of is knowing when to walk away from it. A lot of times, the best ideas come seemingly out of nowhere, when you’ve welcomed distraction and let your mind wander. Harvard University researcher and psychologist Shelley Carson writes about this all-important “incubation period” in her book The Creative Brain.

4. They collaborate.

When Steve Jobs designed the Pixar Studios campus in 1999, his first priority was encouraging creative collaboration. He tossed aside the original design — which called for three separate buildings, dividing the computer scientists, the animators, and the directors and editors — in favor of one large, central space with just two bathrooms where encounters among different specialists would be inevitable.

5. They take risks.

This one is closely linked to creative collaboration, since it’s just as much about getting out of your comfort zone. But it can extend beyond the creative process, and into the details of your daily life. One of the most famous examples of this is Albert Einstein, an avid sailor who didn’t know how to swim. According to Steven Kotler at Psychology Today, his flirtations with danger were directly related to his innovations, because taking risks actually equips your brain to make the “long-distance connections” so beneficial to creativity and imagination.

6. They make (and stick to) a routine.

The details vary, but one constant among most successful creatives is the development of a schedule, which Mason Currey describes in his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Honoré de Balzac woke at 1 a.m. to write for seven hours straight, after which he allowed himself a 90-minute nap and some coffee before diving back in. Stephen King sits down between 8 and 8:30 a.m., always at the same chair, with a vitamin pill and some music. Toni Morrison describes her ritual — making a cup of coffee and watching the sun rise — as an almost spiritual experience.

7. They explore.

Traveling is one of the most effective ways to broaden your perspective, which can have a measurable and positive impact on creativity. But it’s not enough to simply visit another country; this 2010 study shows that learning about a foreign culture while living within it — and, particularly, doing the work to understand the cultural differences you experience — enhances cognitive complexity and flexibility.

8. They pay attention.

Creative people are observers of the world around them. They’ve mastered people-watching, attentive to the smallest of details and usually taking notes along the way. English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy kept a journal with him at all times, in which he recorded notes on things he saw, read, and overheard. Joan Didion has written about her lifelong habit of jotting down overheard snippets of conversation or facts she learns in passing. It goes beyond voyeurism, and it’s as much a record of the writer’s relationship with the world as it is about the world itself. In Didion’s essay “On Keeping a Notebook,” she explains, “We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its maker.”

9. They forgive “bad” work.

One of the most necessary attributes of a successful creative person is the ability to understand and accept that perfect work doesn’t occur spontaneously; it comes from fleshing out raw and unpolished ideas. Weightlifter, entrepreneur, and blogger James Clear likens the creative process to strength training:

“You can’t selectively choose your best moments and only work on the days when you have great ideas. The only way to unveil the great ideas inside of you is to go through a volume of work, put in your repetitions, and show up over and over again”.

If you’re working three to five hours a day, as writer John Updike said, “it’s not all covering blank paper with beautiful phrases.” But if you’re scared of creating work that you’re less than proud of, you’ll never make it to your masterpiece.

10. They take time to be alone.

Above all else, people who lead creative lives are super comfortable in solitude. Part of it is a matter of environment — they spend their days in their studios or at their desks, and rarely in offices — but it’s also something of a natural tendency.Being alone means having the time and mental space to reflect on yourself, your experiences, and your ideas, all of which is necessary to the creative process. It also means that, a lot of the time, creative people are fairly independent. “Overall I have a healthy appetite for solitude,” writer Will Self told The Guardian. “If you don’t, you have no business being a writer.”


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