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The 19 Habits Of Successful Creative People

Creativity is partly in-built, partly fostered by forming good habits. Harness your own creative powers.

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1. They take chances and see where their creativity takes them.

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When creative people make a mistake, hit a dead end, or face a setback, they reframe their end goal.

For example, the inventor of Play-Doh was trying to make a wallpaper cleaner, the inventor of the Slinky was trying to build ship parts and the inventor of chocolate chip cookies was just trying to make plain ol' chocolate cookies but experimented by adding milk chocolate chunks instead of cocoa powder or cooking chocolate.

2. They trust their own instincts.

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"The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt." —Sylvia Plath.

You only have to look at that above quote to realise this.

Need further proof? Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas" before he found his fortune. When he tried to create a Disney park, he was laughed at and told that it would attract "riffraff". But he knew that he was on to a good thing, believed in himself, and persevered.

Nowadays, the Disney empire is worth around $85 billion.

4. …and they don't let the nine to five constrain them.

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Many creative types keep odd hours. For example, Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, and George Sand all wrote at odd hours, sometimes stopping for naps or not sleeping at all.

Many creative people keep on working through the night, taking inspiration and problem solving in their sleep. It's said that the inspiration for Frankenstein came from Mary Shelley's dream!

5. They don't try to be "normal".

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Creative people naturally have less of a filter on their behaviour. They don't try to pretend that they're like everyone else, so therefore, they don't behave like everyone else, which leads to them thinking in new and unusual ways.

Like how Winston Churchill would receive visiting dignitaries in the bath.

6. They think up world-changing ideas…in the shower.

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You know those weird, bizarre thoughts you have in the shower? Creative people jot these down once they'd dried off. Why? Because they know that everyone has their best ideas in the shower. This is because shower time = a chance for your brain to switch off and wander. It's like a playtime for it. Which is why your most creative and out-there ideas will come about now.

7. They know what they're good at and they're motivated by their passions.

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Creative people tend to be intrinsically motivated. This means they're motivated by what's inside and by their own passions, rather than what they're told to do.

Beethoven was told that he was a "useless composer" and refused to learn the correct way of holding a violin because he preferred to play his own music instead. Luckily, he was motivated enough by his inner passions to continue his chosen path.

8. They travel.

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Creative people travel the world and learn from other people and cultures. They ask them questions and live amongst their culture and they keep diaries and take notes.

As Henry James said, a creative person should "try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost".

10. They ask questions.

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Creative people are naturally curious – they want to know how everything works and why.

Albert Einstein once said of himself "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious", while Leonardo da Vinci spent hours and hours sketching things he saw, inventing new contraptions, and trying to work out how everything from mechanics to sinew and bone worked.

12. They produce.

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A story goes, one group of students was asked to produce one perfect clay pot a day, while another was asked to produce as many clay pots as they could every day for a month.

At the end of the month, the group who had been asked to produce quantity rather than quality were producing pots that were far superior than the other group. Why? Because they were practising and producing – not straining over tiny flaws.

Stephen King often talks about this – sitting down and writing for hours and hours each morning, just to write.

13. They can see the world through other people's eyes...

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Studies have shown that creative people tend to be able to see the world through the eyes of others. This psychological distance lets them remove themselves from the problem and see how it looks to other people.

14. …and they try to look at the world in ways no one else has.

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According to Steve Jobs: "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

Case point: An engineer called George de Mestral noticed that his little dog came back from walks covered in tiny burrs. By looking at how these seed pods stuck to the fur, he came up with a really creative invention: Velcro.

15. They take time out.

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Creative people know when to walk away from a problem. They go for a walk, they meditate, or they do something else for a bit. They know that giving your brain a break and reducing the pressure on it will let it relax, wander, and come back to you with a creative burst when it is ready!

16. They get knocked back…but don't stay down.

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Legend says Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. Elvis was told to become a truck driver. Thomas Edison was called "too stupid to learn anything."

After being asked by a reporter "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Thomas Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

19. They keep on learning.

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Truly creative minds are never quiet, and a really creative person never becomes complacent and thinks that they know it all. And they never stop practising and learning.

When Pablo Casals, reputed to be one of the greatest cellists who have ever lived, was asked by a reporter "Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?" he replied, "Because I think I'm making progress."

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