HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: How did you think of that? Where did that idea come from? How often have we wondered about that or been asked that? How often have we tried to untangle and understand our own thought processes? How do the successful people do it?
Those of us who do something creative—writing, or painting, or music, whatever it is—why are we the ones who feel compelled to do so? If we understood our own creativity, could we-- be better at it?
The brilliant Meta Wagner has thought about this—not only for herself, but for all of us. And because we all love to take quizzes (and believe the answers,) she studied the human mind, and created a structure of “creative types.”
And she suggests, in her fascinating new book WHAT’S YOUR CREATIVE TYPE? we all fit into one of them. All we have to do is take her quiz to find out which one! (And then get her book to find out what it means--and how it can help!)
Which one are you? Turns out I’m a—well, first, let’s hear more from Meta.
HANK: Can you remember a time when you were completely engrossed in a creative activity as a child? How has that memory shaped you as a writer?
MetaWagner: When I was a kid, I’d wake up on Sunday mornings way earlier than my parents or my sister. Still in my PJs, I’d sit on my bedroom floor and write little poems and stories during those hours of solitude and put them in a shoebox that I kept in a secret hiding place. I don’t really know why I felt the need for such secrecy! There was something about the early morning quiet that allowed me to just be in the moment, without anything else to do. It was pure.
It’s harder for me to find that pure experience now. But I think where I come closest is when I’m on deadline and there’s no time for distractions – I’m focused and there are just my ideas and my words and my desire to make the writing sharp, mostly for my own satisfaction.
Hank: You’ve developed the concept of the five creative types. How did you come up with it, and what are the types?
Meta: I teach a class at Emerson College that asks the question, “Why do people create?” I looked into hundreds of famous creators in all the arts, from Ernest Hemingway to Meryl Streep to Lin-Manuel Miranda, and I discovered that they have such a clear understanding of their reasons for doing creative work. At the same time, I, personally, kept coming up with new book ideas that I’d be really excited about but then abandon out of fear or doubts. Sound familiar to anyone?
I wondered, what if we all could become motivated like the masters? And so I grouped their motivations into five categories and translated those into creative types: A-Lister, Artisan, Game Changer, Sensitive Soul, and Activist. Once people identify their type and become aware of their strongest motivations, they can return to these motivations anytime they have trouble getting started or breaking through creative blocks.
Hank: In honor of Mother’s Day, what advice to you have for moms who want to write or paint or do anything creative but can’t seem to find the time?
Meta: If you’re a mom who’s pulled in multiple directions with barely a moment for yourself, creativity might seem like a low priority or a luxury you can’t afford. But, I believe if the creative urge is strong in you, you’ll find a way.
Creative expression is also important—study after study shows that it’s good for your mental health! Maybe you could spend ten minutes a day doing creative writing exercises or plotting your novel. Maybe once a month you could go to a reading at a bookstore to get inspired. And, then, as your kids get older, you might finally have the time to write the novel you’ve been “training” for all these years.
Jungle Reds, tell us why writing (or any creative activity) is so important to you? What are your motivations for doing it?
HANK: And as it turns out—my quiz results were very different from what I predicted! Whoa. Now I have to see what that means. And Reds and readers--what's your type?
To figure out your creative type, take this fun quiz and post the results in the comments--and on Facebook and Twitter if you’d like! http://snapp.to/2lHVOEY
And read more about the book and Meta below!
How do the world’s greatest creators produce such amazing works despite experiencing the same doubts and fears as the rest of us? What’s Your Creative Type? cracks the code, revealing that legendary artists don’t just possess talent, they also understand their motivations for creating. Whether you write, paint, film, act, dance, develop software, or even play the ukulele as a hobby or a profession, What’s Your Creative Type? can teach you to identify your creative type (A-Lister, Artisan, Game Changer, Sensitive Soul, or Activist) and discover your motivations so you can break through blocks to finally fulfill your creative potential.
Meta Wagner is the author of What's Your Creative Type (Seal Press). She is a contributor to Boston Globe opinion pages, was a columnist for PopMatters, and has written for Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Salon, and Wall Street Journal custom studios. She was also a 2017 TedxBU speaker. Meta teaches creative and communications writing at Emerson College and Boston University and also teaches a seminar on creativity that served as the basis for her book. Her background is in public relations and marketing. To connect with Meta, visit www.metawagner.com.