What kind of Creative Thinker are you? (and why it matters

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A few weeks ago I was scrolling through my podcast app looking for a topic that would pique my interest. I stopped on an episode of the Gentle Rebel podcast because of the title ‘Late Bloomers’. 

I have often jokingly called myself a late bloomer and was intrigued enough by this title to hit play. Little did I know that listening to this episode would be the catalyst for reaching a level of self-acceptance (dare I say self-love?) that I have never experienced before.

The episode turned out to be an interview with Kendra Patterson, a writer, podcaster, creativity researcher, and intuitive creativity coach. In this interview, Kendra explained how creative thinking can be divided into two different approaches: Conceptual and Experimental. 

Conceptual thinkers are the ones who work deductively. They have precise goals and they can systematically execute a predetermined plan. Experimental thinkers on the other hand work inductively. They use a gradual and incremental approach often based on trial and error.

Listening to these definitions, and the fascinating discussion that followed, it felt like little fireworks were going off in my brain.

I have struggled for most of my life thus far to conform to the conceptual thinker’s mindset, which seems to be the acceptable norm in our society. I’ve listened to goal setting webinars, downloaded templates, and attempted to follow other people’s ‘roadmaps to success’. 

These tangible structures were something to cling on to in this uncertain world. They also offered a way to explain to others what path I was on rather than vaguely stating that I want to ‘do something creative’.

Sometimes I desperately wanted these frameworks to work. I wanted to be able to follow a set of instructions with a promise of success at the end. But every time I tried they just didn’t quite sit right. 

Finding out about these different ways of thinking/being has put words to something that I have felt intuitively for a long time, but have not been able to articulate. Accepting (embracing!) an experimental way of being in this world feels like a huge relief. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Plans and goals and frameworks can be helpful if they are used in a way that is motivating to you. 

My draft of this blog post had [include some positives for goals here] at this point. But I don’t think I really need to flesh that part out because, well, I think we already know that side of the story. 

What I am advocating for is not to force it because you think that’s just what you have to do. If you are an experimental creative and setting big goals and creating detailed plans for one, five, or even ten (yikes) years in the future doesn’t motivate you – why try so hard to fit in with that way of thinking? Perhaps there is an alternative.

Perhaps the alternative is gathering up experiences, taking time to process them, and discovering unpredictable connections along the way.

Maybe your journey will be slower this way. But maybe it will also be beautiful, and unique, and extremely satisfying. And really, what’s the rush?

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