I came across an article by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi that I shared on my fb page today, but in case you missed it, here it is in a nutshell, the ten contradictions he identifies in creative personalities.
- Creative people have loads of physical energy, but also rest often and sleep a lot. I certainly find this. At some phases in a piece of work, I may work all day and then wake after a few hours’ sleep, get up and work through the night as well while, at other times, I may sleep a sound 8 hours and catnap throughout the day.
- Creative people have a mix of wisdom and childishness in the way they think. This might be why I enjoy writing children’s self-help!
- They combine playfulness with discipline in their work.
- They alternate between imagination and fantasy and a very rooted sense of practical reality.
- They may be both extroverted and introverted, although these particular traits are normally the most stable of personality indicators.
- They are both humble and proud; humble out of a deep respect for their art and the sure knowledge that luck has played a great part in their contribution to it, and proud in recognition of their own work, because it is the result of great effort.
- They don’t fit rigid gender stereotypes, but have a kind of psychological androgyny, having the strengths of both their own gender and the other.
- They are both rebellious and conservative, able to take risks but also respectful of traditions.
- They are both passionately involved with their work and able to be objective about it.
- Their openness and sensitivity may mean they feel both pain and pleasure more acutely.
The article goes on to describe the pain of those times when the art isn’t flowing, and the joy of the times when it is. In my life, that would be last year and this. When I wasn’t writing last year, I felt adrift from myself. Now I’m writing again, I’ve come home.
You can read the whole article here. I personally found it very affirming, because I could so relate to it. I imagine a lot of creative people struggle, as I do, with these contradictions in themselves, and are aware of how their own inner contradictions can impact upon the people around them.
I’ve wished, for the sake of my family and friends, and for my own sake too, that I could be a less complicated person. I’ve tried to be less up and down, less inconsistent; I’ve felt, especially in my younger years, that there was something really wrong with me.
I don’t think so as much now – but it’s still nice to have it affirmed that at least some of the trickiness I navigate through life is down to the simple fact that I am a creative person.
How about you – do you relate to these 10 contradictions? Or do you recognise them in a creative friend or family member?