As I’ve studied Creativity over the past ten years, I’ve learned many things that surprised me. Each day for a week, I’m debunking one “Creativity myth” that I believed before I started studying in earnest.Yesterday I wrote about Myth No. 3: Creators are Rebellious.
She let out a little laugh and said, Don’t worry about it, I know you’re the creative-type.
I liked her comment and thought about it for months. I wondered, What made her think I was creative? and Why would creativity excuse absentmindedness?
Creative people are often portrayed as absent-minded in movies and television. There is some truth to the absent-minded professor icon because Creative people severely limit their time to almost anything but their creative work. They read for pleasure. They love. They do laps at the pool and hack at the piano for awhile. But the bulk of the day is devoted to The Work.
Financial genius Peter Drucker, when asked for an interview by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, responded:
I am greatly honored and flattered by your kind letter…for I have admired your work for many years, and I have learned much from it. But …I am afraid I have to disappoint you…
I hope you will not think me presumptuous or rude if I say that one of the secrets of productivity…is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours—productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.
Highly Creative people lose car keys, but not so often that looking for them takes time away from Creative work. Composer Igor Stravinsky wrote about the importance of honing in on Creative work by dropping all else:
My freedom thus consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned to myself for each one of my undertakings…My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the claims that shackle the spirit.
Creative-types– like myself, haven’t mastered the art of cutting the urgent but unimportant from daily routines. We straddle worlds and do both. And accountants excuse us.