No creative wants to be put in a box. So I suspect some would resist if I were to tell them that they have a distinct personality type, and that those that share their personality type have certain approaches to the creative process; excel under certain conditions; and encounter certain roadblocks not faced by creative of other types. Well, once you read a book just published today (July 2nd, 2013) titled Creative You: Using Your Personality Type to Thrive, you’ll wonder how you made it as far as you did creatively without it by your side.
[Side note to readers expecting another MFA Nugget from my graduation MFA residency at the Vermont College of Fine Arts: those posts will resume tomorrow. When I was offered a galley copy of Creative You by co-author David B. Goldstein and given the opportunity to interview him in my Alexandria, Virginia, home, I seized the opportunity, and am blogging on his book today on the day of its launch.]
Readers of The Artist’s Road, like me, share a passion for the topic of creativity and seek to improve their art and craft. Creative You is for them. But it is really for all of us. In a list of 20 myths about creativity, the very first is “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” We know that’s not true; it’s just that some people don’t find their path as easily. This book helps them, and all of us, by breaking down creativity across the sixteen personality profiles found in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.
The MBTI is not a horoscope. It’s a solid psychological tool dating back decades that is based on a comprehensive list of questions. It has been in use in a variety of professional settings for longer than I’ve been alive. Goldstein first came up with the idea of researching how MBTI applied to creativity when taking a watercolor class; the instructor gave each student a personality type worksheet that Goldstein realized was similar to MBTI, and he had his “Aha” moment.
So what are some other myths that one must get past to understand why your personality type has its own creative profile? An obvious myth is that “There is only one type of creativity.” “Did Henry Ford have the same kind of creative style as Picasso?” the authors write. “Ford was conservative and created within a rigid model; Picasso was much more fluid.” Another myth is that “Creativity can’t be learned.” “We all see things in our own way,” they write, “and anyone can learn to recognize what they see is unique and has creative potential.” And how about “Creativity can’t be managed.” Yes it can. “My creative process is better left a mystery.” Okay, good luck with that.
And finally the final myth: “Personality type puts me in a box.” “In fact,” they write, “the more you know about your personality type, the more open you feel. Instead of thinking you’re being put in a box, think about being given a present with a little bow on top. When you unwrap it, you’ll find a collection of specialized tools uniquely sized to fit your personal creative style that can become a part of you.”
(On a humorous note, I do take issue with Myth #6, “Creative people are weird.” We are weird, but in a good way.)
There are extensive sections on each personality type–mine is INTJ–as well as some of the pairings that derive from a full profile, such as NTs. Thus you needn’t read every part of the book, although there is always merit to understanding how others in your life respond to things, or how the audience for your art might respond. (Only 3% of males are INTJ and only 1% of females, so if I want a larger audience for my memoir on the creative process it behooves me to expand my understanding a bit more.)
I learned my creative process follows a “plan A” but always has contingencies, or “Plan B’s.” Nailed it. I learn that I spend a lot of time looking ahead to possible outcomes, and leaping ahead when I think one path might work. But I reflect as well, ready to make adjustments based on data I am continually collecting and analyzing. I struggle with completing work because I always see room for improvement. And I fail to savor victories because I am already looking ahead to the next project. Since first reading this book about a month ago, I keep seeing my INTJ surface in my creative activities, as I just blogged about. That self-awareness is already helping me move forward with my creative projects (something INTJs obsess about even without reading this book).
I found Creative You to be both educational and inspiring. I now have a hard copy of the final, not just the galley, and I brought that hard copy with me here to Montpelier, Vermont. I suspect I’ll want to keep it close for some time to come. Oh, and next week you’ll get to meet David B. Goldstein in a Q and A I conducted with him.
Are you familiar with your MBTI type? How do you think it ties in with your creative process? And to what extent do you accept the notion that there are different ways to be creative?