What type of creative are you?
September 4, 2020
by Maddy Beard

As creators, the most beneficial thing we can do for our business is just that — to create! But sometimes we get stuck. If you’re someone who often feels stuck, try using this article to identify your weaknesses, and then use your strengths to… uh… ‘unstick’ yourself? You get what I mean.

You may identify with more than one of these “types.” I know I do. But my hope is that you can apply little tidbits from each to your own process and mindset.

Two women looking at a computer

The Ideator

Ideators are always coming up with new ideas. Even when they’ve already got an idea in the works that they should be focusing on.

They’re problem solvers. They pay attention to what’s going on around them and ideas come to them. They’re hyper aware of their environments and how any interaction or task could be improved. They don’t just take things for what they are, but always question how and why things are done a certain way.

Not only are they keen and observant, but they’re passionate. Their minds are always churning up new concepts and ways to add value and ease to people’s lives and the world because they truly care. In general, they’re receptive to new ideas. Many people are quick to reject an idea, especially if it’s a little “out there,” but ideators are receptive to these because of their optimistic nature.

Being an ideator is great. But sometimes it can hold us back from the actual making and sharing. Since ideators are always seeking the *new,* they can be easily distracted. Some ideators fill up their plates with so many ideas that progress on each of them is slow and unfocused. Others become paralyzed and struggle to move past the ideation phase at all. They’re afraid to commit to an idea and put all of their eggs in one basket.

If this rings true for you, try creating a place where all of your new ideas can go. I use a tab in my Notes app called “IDEAS.” Pretty original, right? Don’t be afraid to put things on the back burner. You can always come back and think on them further when you have the time. But the important thing is that you choose one idea and move forward with it.

During ideation, we often daydream about what the world would be like with our idea (whether it be a product, a brand, an essay or an app) in it! So use that daydream to drive you to bring that idea to life. Don’t lose the passion you had when that first initial lightbulb went off in your head. Bottle that feeling up and come back to it any time you get bored or afraid and want to switch lanes to a “better,” (newer) idea.

To recap: The Ideator

Problem solver

Easily distracted by the “new”
Fear of commitment

Action steps:
Get moving on one idea.
Start a list of back burner ideas and add to it when something strikes you.
When you feel bored of your idea, come back to your very first daydream about it.

Hand drawing on a whiteboard

The Planner

Planners, (hence the name) latch onto an idea and spend lots of time planning. They’re proactive and thrive on thinking ahead and anticipating potential obstacles. They’re generally organized great communicators. If a planner has or needs a team, they’re great at getting everyone on the same page. They’ve analyzed the idea so much that they can answer any question or concern a person may have. This comes in handy when working with a team, but also when sharing the idea with potential investors or outside stakeholders.

Planners are considerate and calculated. They consider everyone involved and only ever take calculated risks. If they can overcome their fears, they will prove to be very trustworthy and consistent.

Unlike ideators, planners don’t fear commitment and they’re less distracted by shiny new ideas. However, they do fear failure. All of this thinking and planning is an effort to out-smart any obstacles that might arise when you start to execute on the idea and put it out into the world. But, as we know in our rational minds, that is impossible. There are always unforeseen issues in any idea. No idea is perfect. The planner’s perfectionist nature can be valuable to a point, but then it can start to hold them back from execution.

If this sounds like you, here’s one thing you can do to move on from the planning phase more easily: Define a set amount of time that you will spend planning. After that allotted time, force yourself to begin the actual making and sharing of the thing. If you have a friend, family member or business partner that you can confide in, you could ask them if they want to be your accountability partner on this. Tell them you have a tendency to over-plan and overthink, but that you want to start actually executing on this idea on X day. Just the act of sharing the intention with someone, or on social media if you’re into that, will help you stay accountable.

And there’s no need to fear the unknown, because guess what — there will always be an unknown! You’ll never know everything that the universe is going to throw at you throughout a project, so don’t waste your time trying to plan for every little thing. All you can do is follow the plan you crafted to the best of your ability, and be willing to adapt along the way.

To recap: The Planner


Fear of failure

Action steps:
Set a planning time limit and tell someone about it.
Once you hit your deadline, start creating.

Sticky notes and taped paper and photos up on a buliton

The Researcher

The researcher is also risk-averse and takes their time. They gain as much information as possible up front. They’re analytical, always looking at what was done before, how it went well and how it could go better. They’re the master imitator — not a copycat. They analyze what’s already out there and evaluate what can be done better and formulate a way to achieve that.

Researchers are aware of their competition and informed about why other creators make the decisions they do. They dig deeper than most, aiming to understand the user, the environment, the social climate, and the industry their idea will join up with.

All in the name of research, they might watch 100 youtube videos, read 200 articles, listen to 300 podcast episodes and interview 400 people about their idea. Obviously these are exaggerated… maybe… but the point is that researchers tend to get caught up in consumption mode. This can move from helpful to extremely overwhelming pretty quickly. (I’ve also heard this referred to as analysis paralysis.)

Researching in order to make informed decisions is important, but sometimes researchers might run into issues going too far with this. They may start to overthink and eventually talk themselves out of their idea altogether.

If you ever find yourself stuck in this loop, here’s one thing that might help: Write down a list of questions you need to have answered before you begin creating. And then once you have them answered, BEGIN CREATING. Limit your list to the 10 most important questions, and don’t get caught up in answering them perfectly. Like I mentioned in the Planner section, you’re never going to have ALL the answers, so don’t even try.

To recap: The Researcher

Aware of competition
Imitate and improve

May talk themselves out of the idea
Fear of taking a risk

Action steps:
Make a list of 10 questions
Research to get them answered
Start creating

I’m sure you noticed a theme throughout the weaknesses that all of these types of creators are prone to — ideating, planning and research can all hold a creator back from executing on a project. Of course they’re all important to do, but in order to put things out into the world, you need to move on from those phases fairly quickly.

The more things you make, the better you’ll get at making them. And the more confidence and success you’ll experience in your business. So whenever you feel yourself getting stuck in ideation, planning or research, switch your mindset from perfectionism to just getting the thing out into the world. The more you do this, the less precious each project will be, and the less resistance you’ll have to creating and sharing work.