Highly creative people can be quite different from one another, but there are some things that they have in common.
It’s these things that set them apart from the rest. And the surprising thing is that even if you aren’t the naturally creative kind, trying to adapt these traits can help you become one.
Here are 14 personality traits of a highly creative person:
1) They think for themselves
If there’s anything that the most creative people have in common, it’s that they hate conformity.
This doesn’t mean that they’ll rebel against the majority consensus every time, of course. They’re quite aware that contrarianism will just lead them to another kind of conformity.
Instead they do their best to think for themselves and question everything— even (or especially) things that other people think should not be questioned. They keep themselves aware of how society might pressure them to think a certain way, and question it.
This is an incredibly important value for creatives, because it’s in this unrestrained freedom of thought that creativity truly has the opportunity to shine… and not when it’s caged by a need to conform.
2) They’re highly sensitive
So even if they don’t give a damn about what others have to say about them, they’re highly sensitive.
This is their gift and their curse.
They can feel things with more intensity than the normal individual, and this can make them prone to depression and anxiety if they haven’t trained themselves to process things in a healthier way.
But this same trait also fuels their fire.
Because of their sensitivity, they’re driven to create works of art that can make us get a glimpse of what they’re seeing and feeling.
3) They’re curious about the world
Highly creative people are naturally curious about everything around them.
They’d be interested in knowing a lot of things—from stuff about politics to how bubble gum is made.
But more than that, they’d keep digging deeper. If they’re curious about something, they’d keep following their curiosity until their thirst is quenched.
And this inquisitive nature is what makes them discover things that nourish their creativity.
4) They’re curious about others
Highly creative people want to know how humans tick.
It’s something they just find fascinating. So when they’re out, they like to get to know people from different walks of life.
They also truly pay attention. They’re curious in the many ways people express love, fear, anger, and all other emotions.
They’re curious how people handle suffering, and how they fall in love. Most of all, they’re curious about how people connect with each other, and how they connect with the world around them.
5) They have a desire for deep connection
When they make art, they don’t do it just because it “looks pretty”, they do it to with the aim to connect.
Since they’re young, most highly creative people yearn for ways they can connect with others.
They’d make a song that resonates a specific kind of loneliness…and they hope that it’s the exact kind of feeling that will be felt by the listener.
They’ll create a movie or an essay that can move people to the point that they’d say “how is it possible that the creator knows so much about me?”
6) They see beauty in most things
Highly creative people are continuously looking for beauty. And I don’t mean just beauty in the aesthetic sense, but also in the poetic sense.
And the interesting thing is that they’re actually the kind of people who do this effortlessly.
They see beauty everywhere.
They see beauty in how an insect crawls, in how people rush in the subway, even in trash and things we normally don’t find beautiful.
7) They’d try everything at least once
As I’ve discussed before, highly creative people are curious, and while reading about things can satisfy their curiosity somewhat there’s nothing quite like personal experience.
So when given the opportunity to try something, they’d take it—they would try experiencing what it’s like to go abroad, to freedive, and to eat durian.
They get to live richer lives, and have deeper perspectives which will show when they get to making art.
When they try writing about, say, a character that goes to Japan for a holiday, then they can actually draw from their own experiences instead of just imagining what it must be like.
8) They enjoy their own company
Creative people enjoy solitude. In fact, they need it.
It gives them the opportunity to lose themselves in their own thoughts—to indulge in fantasies, daydream, and go over everything that had happened to them that day.
And it also doesn’t help that while not all creative people are introverts, a lot of them are.
So don’t feel like you have to come in and keep a creative person company if they’re all alone. They’re most likely enjoying themselves.
9) They don’t try to impress others
Highly creative people engage in art not to impress others.
And yes, that includes even artists who offer commissions and market themselves relentlessly on social media.
They might be trying to get themselves seen, but even then, it’s not because they want to impress others—it’s so that they can keep themselves fed.
If there’s anyone at all they’re concerned with impressing, it’s themselves first and foremost. And in case it’s a commission piece they’re making, then their client.
But of course, just because they aren’t exactly fishing for compliments doesn’t mean that they won’t appreciate it. So if you like a creative person’s works, tell them anyways!
10) They can get quite obsessive
Highly creative people may get easily bored, but that’s okay, because it’s easy for them to find things to get fixated on as well.
So long as they are afforded the time and the opportunity to explore their most recent obsession they can find themselves easily satisfied.
And when they get obsessed, they often get really obsessed. They can easily spend all night googling about, say, the history of cheese and even forget to eat or brush their teeth.
It’s certainly terrifying when brought to those extremes, but even if you’re naturally that obsessive, it’s still good to dive deeply into topics that catch your interest.
For creatives, it certainly helps by broadening their horizons and keeping their minds engaged.
11) They like to look beneath the surface
A lot of people are content with taking things at face value and don’t bother to look deeper. A door is a door, a rose is a rose, and all that.
But creative people like to dive a little deeper. They don’t like to say “it’s not that deep” because… well, more often than not, most things are deep.
Because of this, you might see them figuring out the subtle foreshadowing that everyone else has missed and predict the plot of a movie almost like they’ve seen it before.
12) They don’t think in black and white
Creative people do their best to keep an open mind. And that means they do their best not to think in black and white.
They understand that the world operates in shades of gray.
If they hear that someone decided to rob a grocery store, for example, they don’t immediately judge them and go “oh yes, I know this kind of person.”
Instead they take the time to ask themselves “what made them do this?”
Just because someone seems to be a certain way doesn’t mean that’s who they truly are—a person who seems “nice” on the surface might be the most cruel person in the room, for example. And creative people know this.
13) They’re not driven by money or fame
We all need money to live in this world, and even creative people want to line their pockets and advertise their services on the internet.
But what sets them apart from everyone else who wants to be rich and famous is that they don’t want money for its own sake.
They simply want to have enough money so that they can live comfortably and feel free to imagine as much as they want without having to worry about money.
If anything, they will likely find fame itself annoying, because then it means they’ll have people bothering them—fans and haters alike—when what they want is peace and quiet.
14) They take the time to slow down
Or at least, they try to.
The world we live in goes by so fast that it feels like we can’t even stop to breathe at times. Being able to sit down and do nothing is a luxury that we simply can’t afford.
But creativity withers away in this kind of lifestyle.
It requires that we take the time to observe, think, and simply enjoy the beauty of the world around us.
That’s why creatives need to stop every now and then. In fact, they need it—they get burnt out faster than normal if not given the time and space to nurture their creativity.
If you were to look closely at what I have described in this article, you might notice that I described a lot of contemplation and observation. This isn’t by chance—creative people tend to be quite deep and thoughtful.
Now, adopting the habits of creative people and trying to think like them won’t magically make you a super-creative person too.
But it should be quite evident that their habits are useful for more than just art, and that they can help you a lot even if you don’t plan on penning a novel or making movies—they can actually make you live a richer life.