The Misunderstood Creative (pt. 2)

part2(Click Here To Read Part One)

The creative is misunderstood no matter how hard they try to temporarily fit into society. Some think its because they live 5-10 years ahead of everyone else. Others think it’s their unique wiring that gets them in trouble with the logical ones in life. Regardless of the arguments, its better to learn how to understand the creative rather than pointing out their differences as being weird.

Here are some insights that would help the cause of understanding.

6. They Feel Deeply. It’s not possible to create something of great meaning without first experience the depths of the idea to an even greater depth than would be expected. The creative feels everything more deeply than others so they can feel and understand the emotional tug that must be placed within their art.

Many creative people have well intact memories of their deepest experiences that can be drawn from. Those writing about despair are capable of reliving their darkest moments in order to get the flavor of the experience onto paper. The same is true for the highest of highs. The mere thought of a joyful moment will cause a smile to bust open on the writer’s face.

When the average person watches the writer relive a terrifying moment from their life, it’s all too easy for them to consider dropping the subject. But, the writer embraces the moment to capture the right emotions for his creative work. The unpleasant experience is justified in the final emotionally driven story.

7. Give Long Explanations. When you ask a creative a question, he gives a long-ish story in response. The average person would prefer a short concise answer, but for the artist, the point isn’t the answer, but the journey of the experience. The creative will answer in story form so the person asking the question gets a feeling for everything that led up to the answer.

When I was a kid my family ate dinner together almost every night. My mom would always start off the conversation with any information we’d need for later. Once we had been briefed, my mom would ask dad a question about work. In his artistic storytelling fashion, we’d then experience the life of a cop as he told numerous stories of the day’s events. He was never capable of answering her question in a few sentences. Instead, we all went on a journey as junior cops exploring his day through story.

8. They are Their Work. Artistry is a very personal work that every creative does from his or her heart. They are not capable of separating their art from who they are. The voice of the critic makes life a struggle since each critique is a commentary of their self-worth—validated or condemned. When all goes well, the artist shines all the more, but when things turn south the artist must fight for their emotional survival.

I’ll never forget the premiere of “The Ragman.” It was one of my earlier films made on a micro budget. I had to set up the food tables, collect tickets and then put my tux on in the men’s restroom. A critic caught me dressing and wrote his column on my hole-in-the-wall production company instead of the movie. The film flopped in the U.S. and broke even overseas. I was humiliated—a feeling that resided in me for years. As a result, I can now write tear-jerking stories.

9. Off-the-Hook Intuitive. Creatives intuitively know how to flow within their art form, while the average person can’t even understand the how and whys of artistry. Science has tried to create robot art numerous times, but continues to fail at capturing the essence of the imagery. This is due largely to the intuitive nature of tweaking art based on the artistic imperfections of the human condition—something that must be experienced and can’t be faked by algorithms.

I remember teaching a photography class on composition. The lesson was on the golden section versus the rule of thirds. I ran a quick competition with the students. They would shoot their best work using the rule of thirds and I was to shoot my work using the golden section. We showed the great pictures to numerous students outside of class and the golden section pictures won every time. Okay, I probably should’ve mentioned to the students that I was a national award-winning photographer in both Kodak and Polaroid competitions that year, but I wanted them to emotionally buy into the golden section, not just learn its measurements.

10. Love to Play. Life is about movement, action and adventure. Creatives are always learning and exploring anything that raises their curiosity. Research to an artist is a game that’s fun to play and filled with lots of observations. They toss out the stodgy idea of a methodical program and instead plunge into a more interesting way of capturing the essence of what they’ve set out to learn.

I can’t help but notice that during family birthdays a couple people always find ways of acting goofy. The childlike behaviors invigorate the group with life and joy. The artists in the family seem to get younger every year and some of the more logical folks find themselves sitting in chairs and conversing about the goofy ones rolling around on the floor with the little ones. I’ll admit that at birthday parties I’ve flown trips to the moon, gone on deep sea diving excursions and have piloted an airplane in and out of volcanoes just before they’ve erupted—all while sitting underneath the cake table with happy kids.

I hope these thoughts help you to better understand the creative soul. I also hope its stirred your own heart to bring your creative streak back to the forefront of your life with enthusiasm. Life for a creative is always full of play and that very choice leads to a young energetic life.

(Click Here To Read Part One)

© 2017 by CJ Powers

The Misunderstood Creative (pt. 1)

yard saleI get tired of being misunderstood. My sister aptly put it, “You think the exact opposite way of me.” Of course, she said this after being surprised that I did something counter intuitive to what she would’ve done. The thing I found the most amusing was the look of surprise on her face.

Since she knows that I think differently, I’m still trying to figure out why she always assumes that I’d respond in the same way she does. The juxtaposition of her thoughts and comments makes me wonder if the people who misunderstand me are subconsciously trying to stick me into a box that makes them feel comfortable.

Neurologists have confirmed in numerous studies that highly creative people think and act differently than the average person. One white paper was clear that the brain is physically wired differently. I’ve been told that 1 in 10,000 people are highly creative, but I haven’t heard how many of those people are in a position to create something that impacts our society.

The numbers are staggering and suggest that most people don’t even know a highly creative person, especially since the creatives tend to clump together in the arts. Out of those who do know one, those who also love them have probably experienced moments when they seem to be living in a completely different world, which they do.

The key is that trying to change them or fit them into a box that’s comfortable for the average person only creates problems. Instead, the average person is better off trying to understand them. Here are a few ideas that can help bring understanding to the thoughts and actions of the misunderstood creative.

1. Watch the Wheels Turn. Friends from time to time ask me the question, “Don’t you ever give your mind a rest?” Whenever they look at me they can see the gears in my mind grinding away on some creative notion or perspective.

Even while I’m typing this blog I’m contemplating how to help an automotive firm win a marketplace ethics award for 2018. The wheels rarely stop, but they do slow down at times. It’s something people close to a creative should always remember.

2. Always Asking “What If?” The creative is curious. If he asks you a question its typically to learn, not to make a point or to test your resolve. The more information a creative collects, the more likely he is able to come up with something new for society.

Unfortunately the creative’s friends sometimes think they’re under interrogation, but in reality the creative respects them enough to ask lots of questions. By asking “what if” type questions, the creative easily shifts his perspective to many different angles, which gives way to new unique solutions.

I once attended a think tank meeting with 25 creative people at a Fortune 50 company. Our task was to come up with 100 ways a specific invention could be used. Within the first 60 seconds many people came up with two-dozen ideas. By the end of five minutes several people had exhausted their ideas with about 40 – 50 solutions. I had filled in all 100 slots on my paper and asked, “What if the paper had 200 slots on it?” I started to write in the margins.

3. Embracing Their Genius. Creatives tend to embrace who they are more than being understood. Staying true to oneself for the sake of integrity always outweighs the bling or offers associated with compromise. In fact, they are so focused on being who they are that they seldom climb into the box others suggest will help them in life—most don’t even realize the box is being offered.

Two years ago I was given an opportunity to make a faith-based film and I turned it down. People thought I was nuts for not compromising so I could make a theatrical picture. The problem was that I know what kinds of stories resonate with me and those are the stories I want to make. Anything else wouldn’t be in keeping with who I am.

4. Follow the Flow. Projects seem to ebb and flow with creatives. Big gaps in efforts seem to happen out of the blue followed by almost manic surges of incredible brilliance. This isn’t because the creative is bipolar. Creatives incubate their ideas in a way that cause most people to think they are inactive—forgetting that they think differently with gears that never stop.

When my kids were growing up, we found ourselves standing in a long line waiting for food. A comment about being bored came up. I pointed out that life was not boring, there are only boring people. The kids quickly learned how to fill their waiting in line time with creative and fun thoughts. To the average person, my kids were well behaved and standing in line quietly, while my kids were actually on great adventures.

5. Quiet Time. No matter how extroverted the creative is he still needs some quiet time alone. This helps him recharge his batteries and bounce back with more energy than before—filled with new innovative ideas.

Every time I came home from Walt Disney World (WDW) my family could tell where my business trip had taken me. WDW is one place on earth that refills my creativity and I come home with hundreds of great ideas. It’s a place that amps up my creative juices and allows me to freely flow through and past ideas that no one has ever shared before.

This coupled with a need to have a quiet Saturday morning for recharging from the day to day, gives me a new lease on life with a fresh new perspective. The idea of being bathed in creative freedom is inspirational to my soul. And, this creativity blooms all the more on a movie set. Oh, I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you it is positively true.

(Click Here to Read Part 2)

© 2017 by CJ Powers