Inspiring Reads: Salve For The Soul
Sometimes, I laugh at the idea of creative block: A block is the last thing I’d call it, because that would imply a wall, and there are so many ways to break down, bore a hole through, and pick away at a wall.
No, I get stuck in creative quagmires – absolutely deadly artistic quick sand that grabs ahold of my soul and sucks out every last drop of creativity. It’s awful.
Sometimes, I just need someone to tell me that it’s okay,that this, too, shall pass. That even the greats – even my idols – have found themselves in a quagmire or two. And that’s exactly what the following six books do, offering really helpful exercises, tasks, and activities that help jumpstart my creativity, even in my worst moments.
Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland
For every artist, there is an oppressive and evil inner voice that whispers, “You won’t make it. You can’t make it. Don’t even dream it.” And so, for every artist, there is also this book: Art & Fear, a real-life, written-by-real-artists account of how art gets made (and not made). Two working artists co-authored the book, in which they share all the behind-the-scenes, ins-and-outs of a successful creative life, including how to beat procrastination and creative block (har har har). Whether you find yourself behind a keyboard, a potter’s wheel, or an easel, if you’ve ever wished for mentorship with a side of friendship, this one’s a must.
Bound for Glory, by Woody Guthrie
Part autobiography, part embellished memoir, this is one that both entertains and inspires. Guthrie paints a vivid picture of Depression-era America – of a time when people traveled by rail, stuck out their fingers to hitch a ride, and went on grand adventures of discovery (and self-discovery). Almost better than the rich imagery, is Guthrie’s prose, guaranteed to inspire writers and other creative souls.
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, by Twyla Tharp
How many habits do you have? Many, most likely – you brush your teeth, brew regular pots of coffee, take showers, and do many other things on a fairly regular basis. And that’s the premise behind The Creative Habit: with a bit of discipline, a dose of perseverance, and these 32 practical lessons and exercises, you can create a habit to pursue your creative passions. You can build a life dedicated to art.
The Sound of Paper: Starting from Scratch, by Julia Cameron
If you feel like you’re stuck on Pause – or worse, Stop – The Sound of Paper is the creative renewal you’ve been seeking. Author Julia Cameron has a special knack for flaying our artistic souls – for uncovering the angst and struggle and creative block that we all experience. The question is, how can we go about the difficult work of being an artist? Inspiring, gentle essays (and their accompanying prompts/tasks) are the heart of this work, which deserves a forever spot on every creative’s bedside table.
The arts permeate Zen Buddhism, from poetry and calligraphy, to painting and flower arrangement, to the ancient tea ceremony and spirituality. It should come as no surprise, then, that zen principles can help illuminate the path to creativity – help us focus on our own tranquility – on simplicity – to infuse freshness and fuel our creative process. Not just theoretical, The Zen of Creativity is also filled with practical exercises to find your creative zen.
If you’ve ever wondered how real artists – every kind of artist, in every walk of life – tread the creative waters, Daily Rituals has your answer. Here within, 161 artists, from all disciplines, detail the obstacles they face, the subtle maneuverings they make, and the daily rituals they rely on. It’s refreshing, it’s funny, and it’s guaranteed to make you realize that other artists, they’re just like you.
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