Anyone engaged in creative pursuits will likely have read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
It’s an illuminating read on how to find your inner inspiration and be creative in spite of fear.
It’s certainly no easy task, especially with all of the issues we have around seeking reward and recognition for our creative output.
Fortunately, if you’re suffering from a creative block, I have some excellent recommended reading for you, in the form of 5 companion book recommendations.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!
1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is a touching and humorous look at the writer’s life, offering advice on everything from dealing with rejection to conquering writer’s block.
Lamott begins by recalling a particularly difficult writing assignment from her youth, when she was asked to write a report on birds.
Overwhelmed by the task, her father gave her some sage advice: “Just take it bird by bird.”
This simple phrase would become Lamott’s mantra, helping her to approach even the most daunting projects with patience and humor.
Lamott goes on to offer a number of helpful tips for aspiring writers, including the importance of finding your own voice and keeping a sense of perspective.
She also stresses the importance of imperfection, both in our writing and in our lives.
For Lamott, the goal is not to produce perfect prose, but simply to connect with our readers and communicate our stories.
By sharing her own struggles and successes, Lamott offers insights that will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to put their thoughts into words.
- Lamott’s writing is funny, relatable, and down-to-earth.
- She offers a number of helpful tips for writers of all levels.
- The book is divided into short, manageable chapters, drawing an almost autobiographical picture.
- Some readers may prefer a more practical guide rather than a literary account.
- The book is geared towards writers over other art forms.
Bird by Bird is a touching and humorous look at the writer’s life, offering advice on everything from dealing with rejection to conquering writer’s block.
2. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The Artist’s Way is a self-help book by Julia Cameron that was first published in 1992.
The book has sold over four million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages.
The book is divided into twelve chapters, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the creative process.
From exploring the ways in which our creative selves have been suppressed and how we can begin to recover them to looking at how our lives can be out of alignment with our values and how we can begin to align them, Cameron provides a wonderful call to action for finding our inner voices.
She also explores the ways in which we can develop faith in ourselves and our creative abilities, how we can express ourselves in our work, and the ways in which we can infuse our lives with more creativity on a daily basis.
- The book is divided into short, manageable chapters that focus on a specific aspect of the creative process.
- Cameron’s writing style is warm and inviting.
- She provides many helpful exercises throughout the book.
- Some readers may find Cameron’s New Agey language and philosophy off-putting.
- The book is geared toward people who want to recover their creative selves, and may not be applicable to those who have never considered themselves to be creative.
The Artist’s Way is a helpful resource for anyone who wants to explore their creativity and bring more art into their life. That said, it’s not just for artists, but rather anyone wanting to understand themselves better using stream of consciousness journaling.
3. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Zen in the Art of Writing is a book of essays by Ray Bradbury that explores the writer’s craft and how it can be used as a tool for self-expression and creativity.
Bradbury draws on his own experiences as a writer to offer insights into the process of writing, from finding inspiration to editing and revision.
He also covers such topics as the importance of playfulness and risk-taking, the value of collaboration, and the power of storytelling.
Throughout, Bradbury encourages writers to approach their work with passion and joy, and to view writing as an adventure rather than a chore.
Zen in the Art of Writing is an inspiring and practical guide that will help any writer unlock their creative potential.
- Bradbury’s writing is motivating and full of enthusiasm.
- He offers a number of helpful insights into the creative process.
- It provides a sneak peek into the mind of one of literature’s most revered writers.
- Some readers may find the author’s exuberance off-putting.
- Visual artists might not find the information quite as applicable.
In Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury explores the writer’s craft and how it can be used as a tool for self-expression and creativity.
Read my full summary of the book here.
4. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon explores the idea that creativity is not a matter of coming up with brilliant new ideas, but rather of building on the work of those who have come before us.
Therefore, is not a rare talent that only a few possess, but rather a skill that can be learned by anyone.
He advocates for what he calls “copywork”: imitating the style of one’s favorite artists in order to learn from them.
Kleon also emphasizes the importance of embracing collaboration and sharing ideas, rather than viewing other artists as competition.
He urges readers to create their own work, rather than simply consuming the work of others.
In addition, Kleon advocates for taking time to daydream and allowing one’s mind to wander, as this is often when the best ideas come.
By following these tips, Kleon argues, anyone can learn to be more creative.
He draws on a wide range of examples to illustrate this point, from painters to architects to writers.
He also includes a number of helpful exercises designed to help readers unlock their own creativity.
Kleon’s book is an engaging and thought-provoking read for anyone interested making more of their art.
- Steal Like an Artist is an excellent book for anyone interested in the creative process.
- It is full of useful tips and advice, and Kleon’s writing style is engaging and easy to read.
- Kleon is a writer and artist and he supplements the book with many insightful illustrations.
- Some may find the book lacks nuance.
- Some readers may find his style a bit too colloquial.
If you’re looking for a book that will help you unlock your creativity, Steal Like an Artist is a great choice. Kleon’s accessible writing style and helpful exercises make this book a valuable resource for anyone fascinated by the creative process.
5. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art is a book about the creative process, and how to overcome the ‘Resistance’ that stands in the way of any creative endeavor.
Steven Pressfield is a successful writer who has also authored titles like ‘Do the Work’, and he uses his own experience to illustrate the principles he discusses in the book.
He begins by describing the nature of ‘Resistance’, and how it manifests itself in different ways depending on the individual.
He then goes on to provide strategies for overcoming it, including developing a professional mindset, setting goals and deadlines, and seeking feedback from others.
Throughout the book, Pressfield emphasizes the importance of taking action in order to achieve success.
- Pressfield’s own experience as a writer lends credibility to his advice.
- Anyone involved in creative work will recognize resistance as a major nemesis
- His tips are practical and easy to follow.
- The central thesis of the book is fairly simple.
- Some may find the author’s strong opinions off-putting and his assertions lacking in scientific basis.
The War of Art is an inspiring and practical guide for anyone who wants to overcome creative blocks and bring their ideas to life.
If you’re suffering from a creative drought, the books above are essential reading.
The best thing is that they come from authors who’ve been there and done it.
At times, following our passions might feel like hard work, but remember to follow your childlike sense of joy and wonder.
Rather than placing limitations on our creativity, the joy of self-expression should be its own reward.