What are the habits of creative people?

The ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ book is probably one of the most widely known self-help books out there. Published in 1989, it was written by author Stephen R. Covey who outlined seven core principles to being effective in the attainment of one’s goals.

In today’s post we’re interested in exploring this subject but more in the context of the communications design industry. We work in a field that requires constant pursuit of creativity of ‘out of the box’ thinking all in the name of coming up with that BIG idea that will knock our clients’ socks off! So how does one do it? How does one stay plugged into the well of creativity?

There is no doubt that there is a plethora of self-help books for the creative profession; we’ll review some of our favourite ones in a future post. In the online space there are numerous blogs and podcasts by industry veterans on how they’ve managed to sustain that energy and fresh perspective after working with many clients.

Below is a selection of 10 habits recommended for creative professions, each supplemented with links to blogs that have more useful tips on things one can do to keep a fresh perspective and steer well clear of the boring box.

1. Solitude

Creativity flourishes in solitude. With quietness, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, and you can focus. Of course, there are lots of ways to find this solitude. Via ZenHabits

2. Embrace your individuality

Individuality is something that we were all born with whether we like it or not. You have unique experiences and unique perspectives. If you can acknowledge this – that you have singular traits and singular ideas, your creative output will explode in both volume and distinction as you embrace who you are. Via ChangingMinds

3. Expect the unexpected

Take anomalies seriously. Recover from familiars and learn from them. Avoid excessive attachment to your own ideas and always be willing to recognize and admit mistakes. Via PT.com

4. Ask questions

Identify the problem and writing nothing but questions about it for 10 minutes a day for 30 days. This helps you fully explore issues around the challenge and gives you time to shift your perspective. Via FastCompany

5. Have fun

Creativity needs two ingredients, in comedy especially. It needs the sort of relaxing bull shitting, left-brain throwing ideas around where 99 percent of it is a waste of time. But then someone throws out a weird nugget or they’re just riffing on something completely inconsequential and they come up with something great. And then the next day is about we’re assembling them, we’re putting it together. Via Conan Obrien interview

6. Read, read, read

If you’re stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word. You’d be surprised how well this works. The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity. There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking. Via Alex Shalman

7. Reject fear, embrace imagination

Fear is an emotion and it’s impossible to counter an emotion with logic. So you need to mount emotional arguments for why your fear of the new is the thing you truly need to fear. [For imagination] just knowing it exists ought to be enough. Once you realize you’re settling, it may just be enough to get you wondering… wondering whether maybe, just maybe, something better is behind curtain number 2. Via Seth Godin

8.Don’t emulate your heroes & competition

There is a form of oppression that emerges when we allow the work of our influences or competitors to drive our creating in an unhealthy way. The creative process is a personal assault on the beachhead of apathy and a push to explore and break new ground, even when we are uncertain of a successful result. The more we try to force a successful (and derivative) result, the less likely we are to see true breakthrough. It’s only when we are free to abandon our need to measure up and instead simply trust our abilities that we will begin to see real creative brilliance emerge. Via FastCompany

9.Play games

Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down. Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90% of your ideas are daft. Don’t worry, that’s normal. What’s important are the 10% that are brilliant. Via Jpb

10.Be flexible in thought, opinion & decisions

A creative genius is flexible in thought, opinion and decision because creativity requires an open mind that takes many perspectives and opinions into consideration at one time. It is from this information that the creative mind is then able to piece together all of the essential ingredients that are required to bring their unique ideas into the physical world. Via IQ Matrix Blog

What habits or routines have helped you nurture your creativity?