What kind of creative are you?

What kind of creative type are you?

Chances are, you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test to see which of the fun acronyms best describes your personality.

Are you a quiet, serious ISTJ? An outspoken, fast-paced ENTP? Or maybe an ambitious, idealist INFP? (That’s me!) Your personality type has a lot to do with your creativity—how it’s inspired, fostered, carried out and even suppressed. Some people think they’re not creative because they’re terrible drawers or don’t like writing, but each of the 16 personalities has qualities that are linked to creativity.

That said, I’m a writer, and to harness my creativity to be more productive, efficient and, ultimately, satisfied, it’s important to understand just what kind of a creative I am—what motivates, inspires and helps me to get the creative juices flowing.

Why? As an INFP, I tend to get a little… distracted. I occasionally suffer from what’s known as Shiny Object Syndrome (“S.O.S.” for short, appropriately), often getting excited about multiple ideas with the best of intentions and never seeing them through.

Maybe you have the same problem, or another problem that’s holding your creativity back. In any case, here are some questions to ask yourself to help narrow down what makes you tick and what gets you off track (and if you haven’t already taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, you can take it here):

  • What is the intention behind your creativity? Doing good in the world? Living an authentic and purposeful life? Expressing yourself in a way others will appreciate and relate to?
  • What motivates you? Money? Recognition and acknowledgement? Achievement (whether it involves money and recognition or not)?
  • What kind of environment inspires you? Do you prefer to be home surrounded by familiar and comfortable things? Or out exploring nature? Or surrounded by people in a social environment?

 

The answers to these questions might seem simple, but they’re key to setting the foundation for understanding your purpose and needs for being creative. Thinking about what energizes you and what you see in the big picture can help you get clear on how you best operate. (It often helps me to write these things down on paper—something I turn to when I’m losing creative steam on the computer.) And it’s not a crime if money is a motivating factor—creative types need to make money too, and working on a rewards system is one of many effective ways to get things done.

When you’ve answered these questions, look to your personality type for more clues about your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re anything like me, you might struggle with time management, being decisive and avoiding burnout. Or maybe you have a hard time being flexible, taking criticism or are over-analytical. Rather than beating yourself up for your downfalls, get into problem-solving mode and cater to your strengths. An app I recently discovered called Commit is great for keeping you accountable for goals you set. And as I begin my second semester of grad school, I’ve begun mapping out a routine and schedule for work and play (this blog falls somewhere in between!) to keep me on track.

So I’d like to know: What kind of creative are you? What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how do you embrace them?

On momentum

momentum

If you get even the slightest bit of forward momentum, run with it. Don’t question it. Don’t hesitate.

Don’t let yourself go to that place in your mind where all of the worst-case scenarios lie. The worst-case scenario is that you leave your momentum hanging there, left unused. It’ll go stale quickly once it’s been opened, whether you use it or not. Yep—even when you run with it, you’ll still run out of it. But if you used what momentum you had, it wasn’t a waste. You’ll still hit a wall, but at least there will be something to show for it. When you’re at that wall, out of momentum, don’t walk away—tempting as it is. This will be the true test of your will. Of your desire. Now that the adrenaline has been tapped out, all that’s left is you. That can be a freaking scary thing to face. You? Alone with your thoughts? Terrifying. Or exhilarating. A little bit of both. That’s when you’ll produce either your greatest masterpiece or a pile of shit. You might prefer one over the other, but both are a success. Because even a pile of shit is something. It can always be cleaned up later. Don’t let others’ masterpieces distract or intimidate you. Chances are, they left a lot of piles of shit behind them, too. (Tired of the pile of shit analogy? Okay, sorry—moving on.) Those people have only chosen to show you the best of themselves, and you can’t blame them for that. It might be what you’re striving for, too, but don’t be afraid to get your very worst creation out first. That is what you call courage. Creation. Creation is courage. Vice versa. You’re not doing this for the comments, the “likes,” the praise. Don’t think about your audience before you’ve even started. You’ll just be paranoid that they’ll see right through you, and you’ll be right. This is yours. This momentum is yours. The stagnancy that follows is also yours. Use both to your advantage. Run with it. Slow down when you’re short of breath, but keep running. Run through, around, or over that wall. Something is there, waiting for you, on the other side.

And the only person it belongs to is you.

 

On an entirely unrelated note, I’m now a monthly contributor over at Pooping Rainbows. Intriguing, right? Check out my first blog post on kicking the bucket list.

Setting goals vs. actually reaching them

I’ve got to admit something: I am a half-assed flake when it comes to my biggest dreams. But not intentionally.

See, I have this terrible habit of setting goals without ever formulating a proper, detailed plan to reach them. I assume that once I’ve made a goal, even written it down on pretty paper (like you do), that it will somehow magically happen by sheer will. This has often led to major procrastination and last-minute rushing at best, and the intended goal completely deflating and never being realized at worst.

So clearly, I’m no expert on the subject of Getting Shit Done. And I’m not about to tell you How to Get Shit Done when I’ve got plenty of my own shit that needs Getting Done. (Next week’s blog post: “Knowing when you’ve abused the use of capitalization and/or are a bloggy asshat.”) But I am slowly understanding where the holes in my plans (or non-plans, as it were) lie, and it’s worth sharing this recent insight.

The biggest issue for me is a lack of a timeline with smaller, more specific goals to help make the ultimate goal a feasible reality. It’s one thing to create a nice little list of the things you know you need to do. It’s another thing entirely to put those events on a calendar and stick to them. It seems so simple, this idea of taking it step by step. Yet many of us–myself clearly included–are too eager to get to the real deal. We’re so blinded by the shininess of the prospect of glory that we forget that it takes more than a singular thought to suddenly get into grad school, or write a solid first draft, or run the marathon… without collapsing in a sweaty pile of despair.

If the first issue is solved by creating these more manageable goals, it in turn helps fix the second issue, which is not working toward the goal every single day. Imagine the benefits of working just a little bit– whether it’s a mile or page a day– rather than in one big chunk the night before the due date. Of not having to stop and think, “Now what comes next?” Because you already know. Because you haven’t had time to forget where you left off. And, you have your nifty little timeline of events.

These are not exactly ground-breaking revelations here. Many people before me have figured this process out, and with great success to back up its effectiveness. So why can’t I make life a little easier? Why can’t I break it up into cute, bite-sized chunks rather than just winging it and hoping for the best possible outcome?

Admitting your faults is the first step to success. Implementing ways to fix those faults is the necessary step to keep on that track. I’m going to give it a serious go in the coming weeks. If it means going to bed with a sticky note taped to my face, so be it.

What are your plan-making/time management issues? Or, better yet, what are your best practices for avoiding general wastefulness?