The Digital Journalist
Professional Careers:
How Creative Are You?

by David Lyman

Truly creative people are different from the majority of the population. Tests show that only 3% to 8% of the population have characteristics and personality traits that lead them to be innovative, able to think outside the box. Creative people can sustain a higher level of risk, they like to break new ground, discover new ways to do things; they like to invent things.

Most people are comfortable in team situations, working with others toward a known goal. Freelance photographers need to be comfortable working alone and exploring. They are able to take a risk, fail and recover then go on, eventually making a discovery. It is these discoveries that give us “the buzz,” that thrill which only comes from exploring new terrain and returning to tell the tale.

Here is a quick survey to help you see just how creative you might be. Remember, being creative is not all there is to life. By looking at the traits that lead certain people to be creative (which some people call crazy) this survey may give you an idea of what you might incorporate into your life to lead you to be more creative, if being more creative is a goal.

To what extent do you feel the following statements reflect your character? Answer them according to how you feel, not what you do as a requirement of your current job. On the scale, 10 means you strongly agree; 5, you agree modestly; less than 5, you do not agree.

1. You are different and don't mind being different.

2. You are playful.

3. You do not like playing by the rules.

4. You are adventurous.

5. You have trouble being accurate, punctual and proper.

6. You are funny.

7. You are spontaneous.

8. You are not a team player; you are independent.

9. You are sensitive to art and beauty in more than art and beauty.

10. You see things when others do not.

11. You are enthusiastic, idealistic and responsive.

12. You are bold, a risk-taker.

13. You are passionate; something is driving you.

14. While you may think and dream, you do take action and make your dreams real.

15. You are not content with the obvious, feeling something out there is better.

16. You are able to push past and through the walls and barriers that constrain you.

17. You seem to know when to let go and give up.

18. You are patient, even though at times you feel impatient.

19. You have faith in your vision.

20. You trust your craft and creative process.

21. You have courage and strong willpower.

22. You have an ability to focus your mind and energy on a single goal.

23. You often appear absent-minded to others.

24. You often feel your work is a message that passes through you and is not about you.

25. You are able to sustain a high level of ambiguity; you don’t mind being lost.

Now, add up your score for all 25 questions. A score of 200 or higher suggests a high potential for creativity. A score of 150 to 200 shows above-average potential. A score of 80-150 shows average potential, and a score below 80 suggests a lower ability to be creative.

Being creative is not always in our best interest, and the vast majority of people are not overly creative, but find satisfaction in life from occupations and endeavors that may be routine, safe or predictable.

Knowing where you fit within the continuum may help you to understand yourself better and help you prepare yourself for a career that encompasses a specific level of risk-taking and unpredictability suitable to your personality.

This test was devised by David Lyman, Founder and Director of The Maine Photographic Workshops of Rockport, Maine


Your response is welcome at

© David Lyman
President of Rockport College
Founder and Director of The Maine Photographic Workshops

David H. Lyman is the director of The Maine Photographic Workshops, an internationally-known summer center for the world's photographers, journalists and filmmakers. He founded The Workshops in 1973 and The International Film Workshops in 1975. In 1996, he established Rockport College as a conservatory for the world's storytellers and imagemakers, offering a range of career degrees and programs. He is now the president of that college. David is an adventurer: a solo sailor, photographer, filmmaker, writer and entrepreneur. He lectures and writes on the creative process and "Transformational Learning Experiences," as well as raises two small children with his English wife, Julie.