Introvert: Why You’re Probably Highly Creative
Despite the fact I’ve loved drawing from an early age, and been told I was ‘good at it’ from those crayon and felt-tip-fuelled days, I’ve always struggled with the label ‘creative.’
Yes, i could draw. As in, I could reproduce what I saw fairly accurately and quickly. But I could never equate that with being ‘creative.’
‘Creative’ to me, meant doing something remarkably original. Using that nebulous thing called ‘imagination’ and pulling something out of thin air into existence.
Honestly? I preferred to draw what I saw.
In more recent years, I’ve learnt that my creativity was indeed there… I just hadn’t been using it to draw with.
Instead, I was connecting the dots in other ways; coming up with solutions to tricky problems (but dear lord don’t ask me to do a Sudoku) and generating ridiculous business ideas.
When I redefined creativity, I saw I did have a seed of it – and that I could nurture it, if I chose to.
This is exactly why I think taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is a worthwhile way to spend 10 minutes (even if you think it’s hooey).
Becoming aware of your personality traits and preferences helps you realise those skills you might not have been aware of previously.
Now, I believe nearly every person alive has the ability to be creative in some way – regardless of MBTI results.
But what I wanted to babble on about today is how introversion and creativity just seem to go hand-in-hand, and why this is.
I also want to end on the struggles creative introverts might face, and how we can use our self-knowledge to make the most of our superpowers – whilst minimising our blindspots.
Introvert: Why You’re Probably Highly Creative
1) Your ability to work alone
Creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus.
When we’re alone, we can turn on and tune into the brain networks we use to be ‘creative.’ I’ll leave the explanation of those to the scientists, but for countless successful creative folk, finding solitude plays a huge role in their creative mojo.
Chase Jarvis, the big daddy of Creative Live, likes to “carve out little retreats for myself.”
Or what about Mozart (who needs no introduction):
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.
If they didn’t convince you to spend some time alone, how about Einstein’s technique:
On the other hand, although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.
Personally, I do my best creative work before most people get to work. I have no problem getting out of bed at 4:30am to find that quiet time, and get shit done.
I also have my best ideas on walks – and this is why I am constantly taking garbled notes on my phone whenever I’m out and about.
2) Your introspection
You might have been told by teachers or parents to ‘stop daydreaming!’ or ‘get your head out of the clouds’ and other adages.
But can we help it? Heck no! Our internal world, ie. what’s happening in our noggin, can often be WAY more interesting than what’s happening around us.
Overthinking, self-analysis, daydreaming – these are all traits that come naturally to introverts – like it or not.
But they are undeniably the perfect fodder for our creative work.
Expressing our inner worlds through creative work can provide us with a clearer sense of identity, better understanding of ourselves, and plays an important role in our personal development.
The creative person is constantly seeking to discover himself [sic], to remodel his own identity, and to find meaning in the universe by means of what he creates.
~ Anthony Storr, Solitude
3) Your unique way of communicating
Ok, this is another way of saying: we generally suck at converting our thoughts (often on the complex side) into spoken words.
Yes, I can craft a decent paragraph – but only over time. That’s not how we speak. If I’m having a brand new idea, or someone catches me off guard – I go tongue-tied.
Instead, I choose to use my creative work to express my inner thoughts, as this is usually the way I find most comfortable.
For example, you might find it vastly more comfortable to express yourself in written form, than hopping in front of a camera.
So don’t see this quirk of your introverted nature as a negative thing: restriction are great guides in helping us do the creative thing that is most interesting, and most true to us.
So, the point in this post wasn’t to make you think only introverts are creative – far from it. But it IS to make you realise how those introverted qualities of yours contribute to your creativity – which you DO have!
It was knowing this that really helped me understand my own creative nature, and encouraged me to make the most of it.
So, whether that’s getting up earlier to find extra quiet, creative time, or going on walks to let ideas flow, or trying a new medium to better express yourself: the more you understand yourself, the more you can squeeze it for all you’ve got.