In my previous articles, I talked about things, which helped me being more creative and tackle the daily struggles (getting up earlier, keeping the energy throughout the day and get things done). But so far, I haven´t touched upon the most valuable source I´m using to fight these conflicts:
To me, reading a book, is a way of diving into another universe. It´s a priceless source of inspiration. Some people watch informative series on TV, others click YouToube tutorials, I prefer the written word.
Since I was a young kid, I explored the world through books. Diving into different times and places only to lose myself and be part of the story. I kept this fascination for books throughout my life and by now, I do not only value the storyline of a book, but also the act of writing. The author has put in a lot of effort and personal experience to educate, inspire or hijack us with the story.
Whenever I´m into a new topic, I start by reading a book. In 2010, when I started to be trained as a Feng Shui consultant, I bought books about Feng Shui. During our house planning period in 2016, I read books about architecture, how to sketch and interior design, just to get ahead of the construction process. And I´m not mentioning all the educational guides, I´ve read during my parenthood.
Since 2018, I´m all into Yoga and Writing, so any books about creativity and the writing process in particular are highly interesting for me.
If you want to be more creative, the recommended book list is endless. Every author has a different point of view and adds insights from his own personal story to it. It´s hard to pick one, especially, if you look for the “Art of Writing”. Nevertheless, there are a few recommendations which turn up again and again, so I decided to explore them further.
The listed books are “evergreens” on the list of recommendations. However, they give deep insights on how to explore your creativity further and that failure is part of the game. There is one thing all those books about creativity have in common: You can´t wake up one morning and be a master, you have to try and then try again and again. It won´t help to dream about being more creative and starting this or that new project – you actually have to start!
Tap into your creativity and read:
Bird by Bird; Anne Lamott – Some instructions on Writing and Life; 1995 – Random House LCC US
“Good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are.” – Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott describes in this amusing and easy to read book, that the act of writing is not only about sitting down in front of your computer and start to work, but to deliver the most authentic text, you can craft. I loved, what she wrote about the voices in her head, which are not an expression of mental illness, but a form of creativity. I realized, that I have these voices too and that it´s maybe a good idea to give them more space.
Writing a book can be overwhelming, but as soon as you split the task into little chunks it is doable. I had my first AHA-moment, when she explains that shitty first drafts are totally ok. They are not the exception, but the reality. No good writer ever writes something without going back and editing it, over and over again (the same applies to setting up a business or painting a canvas, all kinds of creativity need revision).
This book helps you to understand that writing is a process. You can´t start at the very end, you have to follow the path step by step without knowing what lays ahead.
Turning Pro; Stephen Pressfield – Tap Your Inner Power and Create your Life´s Work; 2012 – Black Irish Entertainment LLC
“You don´t need to take a course or buy a product. All you have to do is change your mind.” -Stephen Pressfield
I can´t recall how I ended up reading “Turning Pro” instead of “The War of Art”, which is Pressfield´s first guidebook to tap into your creativity, but I guess it was the promise that with reading this book, I could defeat my resistance and make the leap to become a professional writer. This book is not only for writers, it´s for everyone, who is longing for more and don´t know how to get it. It´s for musicians, writers and innovators; it´s for you, if you want to set up your own business or work for a refugee center. It is for everyone who wants to follow his calling without making compromises.
Steven is telling his very private story about his way to become a writer. He´s talking about shadow careers and how we can determine whether we are Amateurs or Pro´s already. We have to make our way through addictions, obsessions and displacement activities, before we are able to find our true calling.
He lets us take a closer look at our habits. Do they help us reach our goal or will they bring us further away? The trick is to distinguish good from bad habits, such as getting up early EVERY DAY versus watching TV half of the night and sleeping in. And he faces us with an enemy, which will immediately show up, once we developed good habits and working on our goal: Resistance. Resistance will disguise in many ways, the most obvious once are Fear, Self-Doubt and Self-sabotage. We have to get over them and we may have to make uncomfortable decisions on our way to become Professionals.
At the end, it´s not a long litany we have to accomplish to Turn Pro, it´s just a single decision: we have to set the resolution and we have to stick to it. We have to change our way of thinking, change our habits, accept our fears, but constantly work with structure and perseverance to finally overcome them. After all it is a question of mindset. The moment we understand that it is in our hands to Turn Pro, we already are professionals.
The Artist´s Way; Julia Cameron – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity; 2002 – TarcherPerigee
“It (the book) reinforces my belief that we are all creative and have a hunger for further creativity.” – Julia Cameron
The purpose of the book is to guide the reader into its own creativity. As the sub header is stating, she clearly connects creativity with spirituality. To her one doesn´t exist without the other. “Creativity leading to spirituality or spirituality leading to creativity.”
You doesn´t have to believe in god or in a higher source or to give it a name, all you have to do is shift your focus and work on overcoming your fears and “negative programming’s”, which sometimes have been formed in rom early childhood. Again, it´s a question of mindset: you have to believe things turn out the way you want. The major tools to accomplish your goals are the morning pages and the artist´s date.
In this twelve-week course you commit to write three notebook pages every morning as well as to “take yourself out for a date” once a week. These tasks shall fire up your creativity and support your work. Every week is separated into a new chapter with additional assignments to work on for the week. Sometimes you have to dig deep into your childhood, to reveal old programming´s and overcome creator´s block.
I started with the morning pages and I found it very valuable to just scribble down whatever comes to the surface without being distracted by daily business. It is the first thing you start with in the morning, before you do your workout or meditation, talk to your family or watch the news or social media. You reveal funny things and it took me less then 20 minutes per day to accomplish them. I struggled a bit more with the Artist´s Date, as Corona had hit Europe and my weekly outings were limited to going into the woods, visit the lake or stroll around my quartier. I think, it can be highly valuable for people with a tight weekly schedule to set aside time for yourself to clear your mind and let the creativity flourish. The weekly tasks are more timing consuming, but as always, it´s up to you how much into detail you want to go. It definitely has valuable tools to deeper explore your creativity.
Which book to pick next?
I´m absolutely convinced, that the right books, finds us at the right time, to give us insights on a topic we further need to develop. Sometimes it´s a guidebook, other times it´s a novel, with a story with deeper meanings hidden for us. No matter what we find, it will lead us to our next creative input. Books are soul food and a priceless source of inspiration.
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”