Are you a creative introvert?
Here’s a scenario from your student days that might sound painfully familiar:
It’s 6pm on the day before a big assignment is due. Your final grade depends on you acing this paper. But there’s one very big catch.
It’s a group project, so you’ve got to work as a team to make sure everyone succeeds. In what seems like the trillionth group meeting, you are trying to hammer out a creative conclusion for your argument. Then it happens.
The loudest person in the group yells out a lame idea, and the others seem to be on board. You want to wave your arms in the air and say, “Please, no! We can do better than that. At least, I know that I can do better than that.”
Unfortunately, there is no “I” in team. There is, however, most definitely an “I” in “introvert”, and that is exactly what you are. This means that your best ideas emerge in solitude.
Why The Creative Introvert Needs Quiet
As an introvert, your creative powers, which are about as badass as they come, can only be accessed in solitude. You need quiet to connect dots, and create worlds. You also require solitude to to give your brain a break from all the overstimulation assaults you face each day. Think of it this way:
You know that children’s story, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judy and Ron Barrett? It’s about this town where the townsfolk get all their meals from the daily shower of food from the sky. This is all fine and good until suddenly the weather takes a turn, and gross, oversized foods pour down, causing catastrophe for the townspeople. Being a creative introvert is kinda like this.
Each time we leave the house, we face a showering of stimulation in the form of sights, sounds, and people. Sometimes, the stimulation is nourishing and enjoyable, like a forkful of bolognese with a side of crisp greens. Other times, they are a massive meatball to the face.
The Solitude Shield
Solitude shields us from those giant meatballs of stimulation. It gives us time to brush ourselves off, and actually digest what we’ve taken in. Just like a hunk of red meat takes a long time to digest (which is one of the reasons I don’t eat meat, by the way, but that’s another story), so, too, does all the complex information we introverts take in from the outside world. Because here’s the thing.
Studies have found that introverts process more information at a given time than extroverts. That’s why we need more time alone to make sense of it all. But there is another important reason to guard your solitude like it’s the last cup of coffee at a Monday meeting.
Honoring your need for solitude has huge creative payoffs. Creative giants in every field have been praising the merits of solitude for centuries. Take a look at some of the daily habits of these great minds, and you’ll see how crucial solitude was and is to their creative process.
Solitude Habits of Famous Creative Introverts
The RZA walked his way to creative magic. In his book The Tao of Wu, The RZA (rapper, author, music producer, and de facto leader of the Wu Tang Clan) tells the story of how he was walking alone for several hours a day when he came up with the idea for the Wu Tang Clan. Elsewhere in the book, The RZA explains how solitude clarifies confusion:
“Confusion is a gift from God. Those times when you feel most desperate for a solution, sit. Wait. The information will become clear. The confusion is there to guide you. Seek detachment and become the producer of your life.”
Henry David Thoreau found inspiration in nature. Thoreau, though not the hermit many describe him to be, most certainly appreciated the creative benefits of solitude. He famously stated:
“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”
Steve Wozniak came up with his best ideas alone. In what is likely one of his most famous quotes of all time, Wozniak advises:
“And artists work best alone—best outside of corporate environments, best where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee.”
Kurt Vonnegut swam his way to mental clarity. The celebrated author of Slaughterhouse-Five was known for his daily routine of swimming at the Iowa City Municipal Pool. He took his dip right before lunch because this was when the pool was emptiest. In his book, The Player Piano, Vonnegut writes:
“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”
I could spend all day listing creative introverts who have a daily habit of seeking out solitude. But I think you get the idea.
The Bottom Line
If you are a creative introvert, carving out some solitude each day must be a priority. Get up early and catch the last sliver of silence before it is swallowed up by the demands of the day. Or sit and stare into space, as you wait for your dinner to bake. You can even sandwich a walk between meetings, and let the creative inspiration rain down like spaghetti.
Just be sure to hold the meatballs. ?
Are you a creative introvert? What habits do you recommend to stimulate creativity? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below.
Wonderfully written Michaela. 🙂 The example, thoughts, advice, the story is just awesome, and the quotes are spot on! Magnificent job! 🙂
Thanks Marko! 🙂
I love, love, love your posts, Michaela.
Aww, thanks Isabelle! Glad you enjoy them! 🙂 xo
I, too, love the peace I find in periods of solitude. I used to think there was something wrong with me for desiring to be apart from the crowds and noise. Thanks for helping me realize what I should have already known. I am this way because that’s the way God made me. I’m not broken. I’m living the life God designed for me.
You’re welcome, Glenn! Glad you can enjoy your solitude without worry now. 🙂
Michaela, I’m introvert and I’m CREATIVE too, as you know? ?? Speaking for myself I prefer to bear my creative babies in “solitary”, but mostly not in silence because I need an inspiring “soundtrack” in the background. These days it’s the music of BARRY WHITE ? –
http://matthias-talmeier.blogspot.de/2017/01/new-years-eve-2016-with-barry-white.html#links – to be honest, I’m not pregnant yet … lol … but I’m in a good mood, mostly relaxed & cheerful (thanks to the music!) and I get new ideas!
By the way, afterwards HAPPY 2017 for you! ?
Haha, that made me laugh. Barry White is said to be great baby-making music!
Your site is inspiring. Your posts are encouraging. And the support is awesome.
I always get creative by playing music, and/or drawing trees.
In fact, when the creativity is in full flow, I hear symphonies in my head, I see vast landscapes that I try to draw, I can almost fully envision devices and mechanical devices in my head, I can replicate images, I can play the keyboard with my eyes closed: I feel like I’m overflowing with creative energy and it comes out in all my various hobbies and ideas like a storm of light. The hardest part about my creative process is explaining it to others in a way that’s understandable and clear.
But there is one subject I wanted to ask you about. What about people who find themselves changed by their circumstances into introverts? As I feel this is my case.
Thanks! Your creative landscapes sound lush and beautiful! 🙂
Most of my time is spent by self only visit friends when I feel social , maybe an hour at a time,can get bored quick if it’s small talk. Most of my ideas live in my head but do like writing things down. Am infp , melancholy/ phlegmatic don’t like when I phleg out n hang to long cause it makes me feel uncomfortable. Need me time to recharge ?
Thanks for sharing that, Darrel! It’s great to hear from a fellow INFP! 🙂
I needed this! Thank you, Michaela! 🙂
You’re welcome, Lisa. I’m glad it was timely for you!
Walking in silence sparks my creativity, as if the same breeze stirring the leaves is also sweeping the fog from my mind. Hours of wrestling with ideas at my desk often leaves me tired. A 20-minute stroll enlivens me.
It’s too cold now, but in the warmer months I try to carve out time at least once a week and find a place of solitude outdoors and watch the sunset. That’s not a moment in time to be captured on your phone and posted on Facebook. It’s a process that for me is akin to meditation. The busyness of the world falls away, and inner peace and creativity take its place.
Michaela, thank you for making me feel appreciated, I adore you for that. <3
Solitude for me is much like Henry David Thoreau, I try and get as much fresh air as possible and enjoy the outdoors very much, so many adventures come to mind when I'm out there and it brings out the kid in me. I've never lost my lust for play, there's always something or someone I can pretend to be and I can always speak in iambic pentameter if I want to when I'm alone and people don't think I'm weird for saying things such as
thou hast disrespected thine house,
draw thy sword strike thee,
begone thy evils before thee….. Stuff like that, lol I think I'm better at pirate talk and making tongue motors for toy cars though…
I recall the times in my youth when I used to climb on top of the roof, lay back upon the warm asphalt shingles and look up into the clear night sky and watch satellites whiz by, imagining myself traveling to far off distant worlds, or watching shooting stars and making wishes, or noticing U.F.O.'s as they move so fast over the atmosphere then shoot straight up and disappear within seconds. It was a time of wonderment just me alone with the sound of nature the light breeze of night air and if I had a choice in the matter and mosquitoes weren't a problem I'd sleep outdoors every night staring deep into the darkness of alien worlds.
That was sweet solitude. Oh I almost forgot I wondered from your email what a "moomoo" was I thought what the hell is that?!? I figured out it's something my Grand mother would wear, I thought those went out of style years ago, please tell me you don't wear those…. 😉
First off I just love to read your articles, it relates to my soul and it’s like being saturated with water when you’ve been dry for so long. I like to paint, do mixed media pieces and write I tend to lose myself to music or if I need inspiration to go to my favorite bookstore sit, sip coffee and read a magazine. Or if the weathers good I’ll sit outside my favorite library watch the ducks in the pond it always energizes me.
I walk, watching the beautiful landscape and scenery, animals and saying hello to random strangers. At night I watch stars and the moon if visible. That’s me.
It`s not so easy to write in correct English or American! Nevertheless it`s easier than I think…Well, in my situation I spend my time on calligraphy, poetry and write occasionally in my diary. But mostly I prefer a quite place, even in a teahouse or restaurant…Don`t worry, for I`ve I learned to quit myself, just being alone with me. And as soon as the spring is coming, I take my e-tricycle and will find my favorite place in the park…
I also enjoy and feel full while lonely walks, that works almost always. It’s supportive that I found that it also works for so many. I thank you.
It reminds me the saying that “you come up with the best ideas in the shower” (or toilet) – it worked for Archimedes 🙂
A sense of purpose and meaningfulness. Creating to inspire, encourage, strengthen those who need help and can’t find the answers. Or to help the helpless with a need, such as building a shelter or home. Solitude helps it all come together. My deepest thoughts can come from walking, on an overcast gray winter evening, or from the shower. Anywhere I can collect my thoughts really.
I’m glad you’re doing this for all these people.
Music is a way I like to be creative. Playing my guitar or piano and singing along with it just takes me to a whole new world. And when I combine it with nature……..like playing my guitar out in the meadows or near the lake………it’s the most beautiful feeling ever. Thank you so much for helping me connect my creativity and solitude to feeling of belonging. This is the one place I feel like I belong. Thank you for helping me appreciate that.
P.s. I have started writing too and I have to agree with you, it is quite liberating.
Looking forward to reading more articles from you!
Absolutely! Music is a great muse. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thanks for this article i am creative also and i need to be alone to envision and design. It’s so nice to read this and be like yep true to every quote you added in your blog. Thanks 🙂
When I come up with ideas, I do text them on my smartphone. Another option I do is writing them on my notebook with a pen. I have to do one of those choices or else I can forget.
On my WordPress blog, I have written some amazing and probably one-of-a-kind blog posts. I just want to create more.