How Do Creative People Think? Part 1

Intellectual Creatives Vs Instinctive Creators

The creative process is an activity that is hard to explain because it involves complex cognitive, psychological and emotional processes within a person who is creating. Creative people experience it in many different ways, although specific patterns in their thinking can be observed.

During my advertising career, I have worked with many creative people and have noticed two dominant patterns in their thinking. What I am about to tell you here is based entirely on my personal experience. However, it coincides with the views of other creative professionals and team leaders in the creative industry who also tend to notice specific patterns in how different members of their team approach the creative process.

There are two ways in which creative people generate their ideas – they either use their head or their gut feeling – therefore, I tend to call them Intellectual and Instinctive Creatives.

creative thinking, photographer
photo bymanny pantoja on unsplash

Creativity and Logic

Intellectually creative people are connected with reality and focused on solving their problems in most practical ways. They find it easy to keep in mind the purpose of their thinking while searching for ideas that will provide answers to a problem or task in front of them. They are like a ship sailing the North Sea: they know how to navigate between icebergs (i.e. distractions, challenges, obstacles, negative thinking, biases, etc.) until they reach their final destination. Sometimes their journey takes them back and forth, sometimes they need to swerve abruptly to avoid crashing into one of those icebergs, but somehow, they always seem to be able to find their way out of the risky situation.

Their creative strength is in their ability to continually question themselves whether various aspects of their idea offer answers, solutions or improvements; whether the idea provides values and benefits or has some practical purpose. They search for every possible information about the topic of their thinking, examine every detail, spot patterns and links, and this eventually leads them to valuable insights and consequently – to new ideas.

This type of creative people can be found in every industry – they are innovators, improvisers, solution seekers, problem solvers, content creators, etc. If they possess leadership skills and are capable of curbing their ego, they can become great inspirators, motivators and creative leaders.

Intellectual Creatives can suffer occasional creative blocks or, if they are inexperienced, they may lose focus and get lost in a sea of possibilities that they can see in front of them. They tend to have problems with Great Censor inside their head and can become insecure about their ideas. They tend to be perfectionists, so they over-challenge their ideas.

To be even more successful, Intellectual Creatives need to continually expose themselves to engaging experiences because new information provide fertile ground for their future ideas. But to be able to use that new data, they need to dig deep into their subconscious mind, and that is what they need to learn – to rely more on their subconsciousness and intuition.

Creativity and Intuition

Instinctively creative people can think of amazing ideas because they can easily connect with their subconscious mind. They are fully aware of their creativity. They often tend to be eccentric, egoistic, stubborn, moody or insecure and withdrawn, depending on their character, but that is what makes them unique, and why people either love them or hate them. They are highly sensitive and can have strong reactions to criticism or injustice, so the sense of diplomacy is not on the list of their talents. Their intense emotions can sometimes cause depression or creative blocks. Many of the suffering artists belong to this group of creatives.

They sometimes find it hard to fit into a team and may develop a perception that their ideas are not appreciated enough. They need to be handled with great care, with a lot of respect and understanding. It often takes a visionary leader to recognize their talent and make the best use of their creative potential. They are much better off as freelancers or as independent artists who do not have to adjust to working hours, fit in the company hierarchy or bear scrutiny of decision-makers. They need more freedom than other creatives, but it is worth investing in them because they can give so much in return.

If you belong to this group of creative people and you are working in an advertising agency or any other kind of creative business, keep in mind that your task is to create ideas that can be commercially exploited. To avoid getting lost in the abstract concepts, always ask yourself whether your idea solves the problem, addresses all the parts of your creative brief and whether it is feasible. Be meticulous in the execution because instinctively creative people think conceptually and tend to neglect or oversee certain aspects or details which can affect the overall impression of their work.

Be aware of the fact that you and your client look at your work with different eyes so while creating try to slip into client’s (or consumers’) shoes to check whether you are heading in the right direction. Remember that even the greatest ideas get rejected. If this happens to you, it may have nothing to do with you or the quality of your work but could be the consequence of some other factors the decision-makers had to consider.

Clash of the Creative Titans

The main difference between the instinctively and intellectually creative individuals is that those who think with their head are usually able to produce a greater number of practical ideas than those who think with their gut. On the other hand, if you look at how unique and exceptional these ideas are, you will realize that those who think with their stomach usually win the game.

When forming a creative team, you need to have onboard both intellectually and instinctively creative people. If they work in groups, they will inspire and correct each other’s thinking, and at the end of the day, they will always be able to create a pool of ideas that you can choose from.

This is a very, very general typology of creative people. In reality, most creative people are somewhere between these two extremes.

Belonging to one or the other group will not make you more creative or more successful. That is why you can find both these types among artists, business people, scientists and in virtually every profession. However, as a creative person, it is good to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and the things you can do to improve your creative thinking.

Which type of a creative person do you think you are?

If you like this and previous posts please share them with your creative friends or visit the NCY Podcast and listen to latest shows about creativity.

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