Often it’s not what we do, but how we do it that enlivens our creativity. Ever thought you were a creative genius, but just didn’t have the data to back it up? Well, now you do. We’ve examined 10 of history’s most creative genii and examined how, when and how they did their work. Answer all 10 questions about your creative process and we’ll tell you which creative genius you are.
Ever thought you were a creative genius, but just didn't have the data to back it up? Well, now you do. We've examined 10 of history's most creative genii and examined how, when and how they did their work.
Answer all 10 questions about your creative process and we'll tell you which creative genius you're most similar to.
A 20th Century poet best known for his love poems, W.H. Auden lived a strict, regimented lifestyle. In his book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey quoted Auden as saying that “the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”
For the Audens out there, you know exactly when your mind works at full capacity and you take advantage of it. That’s why you insist on following a daily routine. At full creative flight, you generally try to wake up early and hit the sack early, meeting the times set in your schedule, and you are highly productive because of it.
A German composer active in the 18th and 19th centuries, Beethoven was a highly productive creative. His routine was consistent and he was somewhat obsessive — he thought 60 coffee beans made up the perfect brew and he counted them out for each cup he drank.
For the Beethovens out there, you make sure you take the time for little breaks. Going for a walk around the neighborhood to wind down does wonders for your creativity. That’s why you make sure you’re always carrying around a pen and a notepad to record all ideas that come your way. And like Beethoven, who had a hearing disability and a problematic household, you never let life’s difficulties get in the way of your creative work.
An Austrian composer of the Classical era, Mozart was composing from the age of five. An obviously gifted creative, Mozart found it difficult to find time to work. Living in Vienna for most of his career, his days were often spent socialising or conducting lessons to fund his lifestyle and he often complained to his close friends and family that his busy lifestyle hindered him creatively.
For the Mozarts out there, you are always juggling your day job, family life, social obligations, and passion projects and despite your busy schedule you eventually find time to produce, even if it’s not as often as you would like.
A German-born theoretical physicist active in the early twentieth century, Einstein is famous for (among other things) developing the theory of relativity. Immigrating to the United States to work at Princeton University in the early 1930s, Einstein lived a humble lifestyle despite his fame.
For the Einsteins out there, you don’t have any particular rituals. You’re quite the recluse though, preferring to go home early from your day job and plunging into some more work in solitude. Your most notable eccentricity is your blatant disregard for social norms that you find useless. Einstein paid no mind to what people thought of his ungroomed hair, for example — which social norm do you shrug off?
An English novelist during the 18th and 19th centuries, Jane Austen is one of the most popular and recognizable English writers in history. Born into modest circumstances, Austen was homeschooled by her father and developed her writing skills by reading. Though her family was incredibly supportive of her work, because of the controversy she faced as a female novelist of the times, Austen worked at irregular times to avoid being spotted writing by guests and other extended family members who visited.
For the Austens out there, you do not require solitude to do your work (though you might crave it). You work at home, in between chores and the hustle and bustle of your family. You have adapted successfully to your particular environment and have found a way around most of the challenges you face daily. Your special skill is your indestructible focus that remains laser sharp despite constant interruptions.
An American writer of the twentieth century and regarded as one of the greatest novelists of all time, Hemingway won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 and most of his works are considered American classics.
For the Hemingways out there, you have your fair share of idiosyncratic rituals. But that’s only because you recognize the importance of building your lifestyle according to your particular creative needs. If you know that your mind generates its best ideas in the morning, you make sure you’re awake for it even if you’ve been up late the night before. Disciple is the backbone of your productivity. You also make sure to track your daily progress. When the muse isn’t around, you welcome chores and small breaks.
A Spanish super-creative regarded as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Picasso’s mastery included painting, printmaking and poetry. Known most for his painting, the most expensive Picasso original — Les Femmes d’Alger — was sold in 2015 for $180 million.
For the Picassos out there, you have this paradoxical desire to be left alone and to have a healthy social life. But given a choice, you would always choose solitude and dedicate yourself to your work. You have never been a morning person and prefer working in the afternoon until late into the evening. You can only work in a locked up area with no people allowed to interrupt your work. If possible, you would block off a day every week, free of social obligations, but that’s a struggle. People closest to you might feel neglected sometimes, but most of them are understanding of your eccentricities and creative needs.
An American writer and illustrator who has produced works for The New Yorker and the New York Times, Kalman oddly starts every day reading the obituaries before she takes a long walk. Best known for her picture book, Fireboat: the heroic adventures of the John J. Harvey, Kalman and her late husband, Tibor Kalman, also ran the design company, M&Co.
For the Kalmans out there, you get your work done in the comfort of a distraction-free space and you don’t feel the need to follow a military-like working schedule because you know that breaks, daily walks, and some healthy amount of procrastination helps you get in the mood to work.
An American novelist whose books have sold over 350 million copies, Stephen King is a prolific creative who writes every day of the year, including on his birthday and holidays, and doesn’t stop until he hits his quota of 2,000 words.
For the Kings out there, if you had it your way you would start working in the morning and go at it until you finish. You believe in working behind closed doors without interruptions, in a place where you can cultivate a dream-like flow of thought. You keep a schedule as a way of conditioning your creative energies to surface at a fixed time.
A twentieth-century American cartoonist best known for his comic strip, Peanuts, Schulz was a prolific creative (he drew almost 18,000 comic strips on his own, without the help of any assistants) and a devoted family man, working around his duties as a father.
For the Schulzes out there, you generally need to follow a consistent schedule. Like him you have perfected a daily routine that includes both work and other duties that you accomplish without missing a beat. You spend time before you dive into any new project or task brainstorming new ideas and once you have them in order you work quickly so as not to give them a chance to slip away.
I wake up early, with the sun.
I'm in no rush — my preference would be to sleep until I wake.
I'm your typical night owl. I'm usually the last person to go to sleep in my house.
I make an effort to go to bed early, to get enough sleep to be productive the next day.
Yes, I need structure or I implode.
I have no creative routine— I work when I feel like or it or have time.
I create every day, without fail.
I struggle to create every day, for me it varies.
Yes, I start at a certain time and finish at a certain time of the day.
Set timeframes aren't that important to me
I cannot be disturbed — any distraction brings my creativity to a screeching halt.
Working in and amongst people in noise is definitely a part of my creative process.
Untidy, I work in mess so my mind can have clarity.
Tidy, I can't think and create when my workspace is out of whack.
I spend time thinking and contemplating before I take action.
I start creating and hope I end up in a good place.
I'm never distracted — I have systems in place to block out all distractions.
I'm distracted by people, technology and anything else that gets in my way.
Yes, walks are a staple feature of my creative process.
No, I tend to stimulate my creative process in other ways.
In the mood for another? Answer these 10 simple questions to find out what color perfectly reflects your personality.