“Of all human activities, creativity comes closest to providing the fulfillment we all hope to get in our lives.” – M. Csikszentmihalyi
The thought that creativity can bring fulfillment is lovely, isn’t it? And I believe it’s true . . . as strongly as I believe it’s that easy AND that hard.
Where does creativity come from, anyway? Are we born with it? Can we learn it? I’m not sure, but I’d like to think it’s like working on your muscles (hopefully not as difficult as developing six-pack abs). If it’s something you work on, you should get better at it like everything else in life. But just because it’s about “making stuff up” doesn’t automatically mean you can make stuff up in a concise and brilliant manner, does it?
I think we need something truly special in our brains if we’re to change our lives through creativity. And as writers, we have the opportunity to touch hundreds—if not thousands—of lives with our words. The question that remains unanswered is whether or not we make an impact on those lives, even for a moment. But you know what? For what we do, it’s immensely satisfying to help others escape for a while from their reality.
The unknown is part of the thrill. It’s also part of the risk . . . which is why I believe creative writers are very brave. They put themselves out there, they have to think outside the box, and go for it even if they’re afraid. The good news is when it pays off, the reward is indeed fulfillment.
Now, I’m no expert, but I think the world of my peers. So according to me . . .
Here are some traits of creative writers:
1- They may not be the best at time-management.
Let’s be honest here, it’s easy to distract a writer when they’re still getting their thoughts together, but once they’re in the zone . . . well, dinner be damned. They get lost in concentration and everything around them just disappears. The beauty of it, though, is they’re actually busy building worlds and saving lives. Not real lives, mind you, but someone’s gotta save them. That IS the job.
It’s also difficult to make time to write. Just because we set aside an hour or two every evening doesn’t mean the muse will show up. Or that the family will cooperate. Or that Netflix won’t release that show you’ve been waiting on for a whole year. Priorities can sometimes have a mind of their own, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Seriously, nothing.
Either way, time and writers can have beautiful romantic dates, but every so often it can be a disaster.
2- They’re kids at heart.
But that does not mean they’re immature (most of the time, anyway). Who believes in the magic of the world more than a kid? No one, and that’s why writers hold on to their inner child forever and ever. And ever.
They embrace a certain sense of innocence to keep the wonder alive to answer all the “what ifs” they possibly can. They’re a balance of wisdom and silliness, and they use that curiosity to ask about ALL the possibilities and impossibilities of the world.
“It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.”
3- They’re cautiously adventurous.
Creative people understand that new experiences can lead to new ways of thinking but aren’t always open to go out . . . like outside out (I feel like that’s asking a lot). Many writers tend to be a little introverted, after all. And even the most socially-extroverted-party-animal writer tends to retreat into their quiet space for solitude a few times a year. True story.
So when writers dare go on adventures to write more vividly (for you) (you’re welcome), they also need to go into hiding for a while. Part of it is for self-preservation (it’s too people-y out there), and part of it is for work-preservation. There’s no need to compromise any details by the interruption of memories of other non-important things (like other people).
4- They’re super sensitive . . . but they can take it.
I don’t think it’s a surprise that writers have to be sensitive to write with that certain spark. That extra thing that pulls at your heartstring. Of course, there are writers who aren’t sensitive (and that’s why they write textbooks), but we’re not talking about them. Part of sharing their innermost crazy ideas opens the doors to being criticized. So writers have to be willing to take risks while being strong enough to take any (and all) outsiders’ (sometimes poopy head) opinions that go along with it.
But being open to the creative experiences (and sometimes-welcomed intelligent opinions about their work) is also a great source of happiness. And most definitely also a learning experience. After all, writers like to learn to create, and create to learn so they can learn to create with more sensitivity. It’s a whole mess; don’t even try to understand it.
5- They’re passionate and determined.
Creative writers don’t just like what they do. They passionately love what they do. They love it enough to be objective. Enough to separate themselves from their work and accept constructive criticism. They’re willing to see their weak areas and work on improving. And if they’re not, they eventually give up and write textbooks (“studies” show).
They work on their craft over and over. Day after day, year after year, and they don’t give up. They’re determined to share their craft, even if people fail to see how much work they put into it. They’re determined to follow their own dreams fearlessly even when it means personal sacrifice. You can’t see it, but it’s there.
That’s why I admire creative writers. I’m both proud and intimidated to be a part of such a passionate hard-working group. They combine the fun and the hard work, and they create worlds, friends, fear, passion, and love. They create beautiful magic from within and they share it.
Because of that feeling of fulfillment.
And there’s nothing like it.