Creative Wisdom: Creative People

April 10, 2013

Today’s creative wisdom is brought to you through the kind permission of the artist Kim Phillips. It was originally posted on the blog

12 Most Striking Tendencies of Creative People

Ever wonder what makes those wacky, creative types tick? How is it that some people seem to come up with all kinds of interesting, original work while the rest of us trudge along in our daily routines?

Creative people are different because they operate a little differently. They:

fingerpaint-292x3001. Are easily bored

A short attention span isn’t always a good thing, but it can indicate that the creative person has grasped one concept and is ready to go on to the next one.

2. Are willing to take risks

Fearlessness is absolutely necessary for creating original work, because of the possibility of rejection. Anything new requires a bit of change, and most of us don’t care for change that much.

3. Don’t like rules

Rules, to the creative person, are indeed made to be broken. They are created for us by other people, generally to control a process; the creative person needs freedom in order to work.

Experimental by Peter Klashorst

Experimental by Peter Klashorst

4. Ask “what if…”

Seeing new possibilities is a little risky, because it means that something will change and some sort of action will have to be taken. Curiosity is probably the single most important trait of creative people.

5. Make lots of mistakes

A photographer doesn’t just take one shot, and a composer doesn’t just write down a fully realized symphony. Creation is a long process, involving lots of boo-boos along the way. A lot goes in the trash.

6. Collaborate

The hermit artist, alone in his garret, is a romantic notion but not always an accurate one. Comedians, musicians, painters, chefs all get a little better by sharing with others in their fields.

7. Are generous

Truly creative people aren’t afraid to give away their hard-earned knowledge. The chef can give you the recipe because she knows you won’t make it like she does anyway.

256px-Atomariet_på_Tekniska_museet_28. Are independent

Stepping off the beaten path may be scary, but creative people do it. Children actually do this very well but are eventually trained to follow the crowd.

9. Experiment

Combining things that don’t normally go together can result in brilliance or a giant mess. Trial and error are necessary to the creative process.

10. Motivate themselves

There does seem to be a spark that creative people share, an urgent need to make things. They are willing to run the inherent risks of doing something new in order to get a new result.

11. Work hard

This is probably the most overlooked trait of creative people. People who don’t consider themselves to be creative assume that people who are creative are magical, that ideas just pop into their heads effortlessly. Experienced creative people have developed processes and discipline that make it look easy.

256px-Friendly_stickman.svg12. Aren’t alone

The good news is that it’s possible for everyone to be creative. There are creative accountants, creative cooks, creative janitors, creative babysitters. Any profession or any hobby can be made into a creative pursuit by embracing and using creative traits.

Do you consider yourself creative? (Say yes.) Finding something you’re really passionate about will help you take a chance and might just result in something wildly creative.

Kim Phillips is the founder of Lucid Marketing and author of the Lucid at Random blog.  With over 30 years of experience in corporate advertising for a major financial institution, sales and marketing, Kim provides clients with marketing communication strategies, branding, content management and creative services.  She is a teacher and speaker, and she finds time for musings and the occasional rant on her personal blog.

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  • Reply
    Kim Phillips
    April 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Lyric, thanks for reposting this. When I first wrote it for, it really struck a nerve and got a huge response. Maybe creative types feel they are misunderstood, or maybe everyone who ever squelched a creative impulse felt a little validated. Keep on creating, I say! Y’all can check out my art at

  • Reply
    April 11, 2013 at 1:24 am

    At first glance I wasn’t into the “don’t like rules” bullet list. Then read the explanation that rules are made for breaking. I like rules when they are meant as a starting point to go from. A structure to play around. But not when they are a binding-step to produce copy instead of actually CREATE.

  • Reply
    April 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    This is a great list! Thanks for sharing it.

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