The Writer’s Mind, or how to have a split personality without even trying


Us writers are a weird lot. Most creative people are. And trying to explain the way our minds work to someone who’s not terribly creative usually feels like giving a speech to a room full of people who don’t understand your native language. The people listening will try to understand, just like you’ll do everything you can to use hand gestures to get around the language barrier and get your point across. But no matter what, the message isn’t really going to get through in the way you want. The comprehension just isn’t going to be there. And as a creative person, a writer, that’s odd for me.

Why? Because a big part of being a writer is being able to shift into a lot of different mindsets and understand them. We take on aspects of people completely different than ourselves every time we write a story, delve into their psyches and make them real. Let’s face it: I’m not a half-fairy. And I’m not a kid living in a post-apocalyptic society where technology is a faded dream. But I’ve written about them. I’ve crawled into their heads and learned the way they think and react, so that I could bring them to life on the page. And by the time I finish their stories, I know them as well as I know myself even if they’re completely different than me. So how is it that non-creatives can’t do this, even a teeny tiny amount, so that they can understand how we create?

A lot of articles say that creative people just think differently than others. There was even an article in “Psychology Today” a number of years ago that looked at this theory, and I have to admit it was pretty interesting. According to the author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, creative personalities are a study of opposites: Smart yet naive, playful yet disciplined. Humble and proud, both introverted and extroverted, rebellious and conservative. All at the same time. We are the three faces of Eve in a lot of very real ways, filled with a dual nature that’s incredibly tough to balance but also vital to our work. So maybe it’s no wonder that non-creatives don’t get us. If we’re so full of opposites, and yet live successfully with this dual nature all the time, traditional thinking would say that we’re just insane.

And you know what? Maybe we are a little crazy. But not in a way that requires medication. Creative personalities exist in a lot more fields than just art. Scientists have this quirk of the mind, and I’m pretty sure anyone who was a visionary or changed the world in any way had these quirks, too. So here’s to all the crazies and the dreamers. I say we wear our badge of oddness proudly, and remember that when Apple made this ad, they were talking about us, too: Here’s to The Crazy Ones

If you’d like to read the article on creative personalities that I referred to above, you can find it here: The Creative Personality

One thought on “The Writer’s Mind, or how to have a split personality without even trying”

  1. I agree and second your cheers to the crazies. I can see a distinct difference in the way creative people and noncreative people think.

    I am passing along the Versatile Blogger Award to you! Thanks for your great posts!

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