If you consider yourself creative, you’re in the right spot; if you don’t, you should! Everyone is an artist in their own right. We all have that creativity inside us; we just need to nurture it. But, unfortunately, often, we get so caught up in what we believe an artist should be that it gets in the way of our creativity and distracts us from our passion.
Lately, I’ve been struggling a lot with creative burnout. If you’re a creative person, you know how frustrating this can be. What helped keep me grounded was reading books on how other creatives survived their artistic rough patches.
Knowing that so many successful artists have gone through the same things and gone on to create beautiful work was so motivating. Whether you create as a side hustle or dedicate your entire being to your craft, you are valid.
Below is my little compilation of creative thinking books to help you get out of those creative blocks and live a more creative life.
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Craving more books to read?
I Didn’t Do the Thing Today
A thoughtful, reflective conversation takes place regarding the meaning of productivity. We’ve all struggled with the feeling that we’re not doing enough. But, unfortunately, if you work in a creative field, there’s a lack of structure that can give way to doubt on whether or not you’re producing enough. This book puts a stop to that line of thinking.
Dore dismantles long-held beliefs of productivity and challenges you to take a slower approach to living. They offer the much-needed reminder that we can’t do everything every day. We are only human, after all. Relieving that pressure of performance is the best way to reach our true creative potential.
This is one of my favorite books because it teaches you to be gentle with yourself.
While it is important to take action to create, it’s fruitless to hold onto standards that others have set, especially if they don’t make us feel good. The notion that there’s no better time like the present is thrown out the window, allowing you to exist and let creativity find you instead of chasing it.
The Wander Society
Whitman fans will love this book. The author stumbles upon a series of cryptic messages in a secondhand Walt Whitman book. These messages led to the discovery of The Wander society, an organization structured around the idea of intentional wandering as a means to living a fuller life.
As you follow Keri’s journey of discovery, you learn more about the group’s core principles and how to implement them into your daily life to find inspiration.
As an advocate for slower living, this read really resonated with me. It teaches you that inspiration can be found in the mundane. Smith challenges you to spend time nurturing yourself and filling your cup so you can pour that into your work.
Simply taking an hour out of your day to wander around your neighborhood can lead you on an adventure that can inspire your art and change your life. The practice of mindful wandering is also a lesson in gratitude. When you slow down, you can see the things right in front of you the whole time.
The Artist’s Way Workbook
This book is a favorite among creatives for a reason. It takes an interactive approach to tackle the burnout and lack of motivation that artists struggle with throughout their careers. This step-by-step guide offers readers exercises to help them tap into their creativity and gain lifelong habits that will aid in productivity.
Broken into twelve parts, this book caters to creatives of all mediums and guides you to unlock your inner child and get curious. This book popularized the idea of “morning pages” where you dedicate every morning to writing three content pages. These prompts help you to just create, no matter what it looks like. This should be your next book if you need help with getting started.
Cameron prompts participants to engage in a weekly artist date, where they dedicate time to taking themselves out on a date with no expectations. These dates aim to awaken inspiration while aiding in rejuvenation, which is crucial to the creative process.
These types of practical exercises are what set this book apart. Cameron’s gentle guidance helps artists find the joy in creating because that’s what it’s all about, right?
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Creative minds might be afraid of this one, but I urge you to try it. The thought of reading a book about habits is intimidating to the artistic mind that’s conditioned to exist without boundaries. I used to think such rigidity had no place in creativity, but this book helped me see things differently.
The reality is even artists need discipline. Clear takes a gentle yet practical approach to self-control and forming healthy habits. He doesn’t tell you which practices you should or shouldn’t have; that’s up to you to decide. Instead, he offers great deas on tackling your goals by shifting behaviors that have hindered you in the past.
The author challenges the reader to view success as a system instead of a finish line. You’ll have a better time achieving your goals once you start viewing success as a journey instead of a destination.
Art & Fear
We’re all guilty of thinking a little too much about what others think. What if people don’t like our work? What if it doesn’t live up to our expectations? These fears stop us in our tracks, preventing us from creative work that’s true to who we are. The ability to push through these fears is one of the core values of this book.
One of my favorite quotes about creating comes from Bales. He explains that “You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn’t very good.”
Sitting with fear is no easy task, but Bayles and Orland show how doing so will enhance your creative confidence. Their practical advice on navigating the judgemental nature of the creative field makes this a great book. I highly recommend it to anyone struggling to step out of their comfort zone and show their art.
Read more of our book round-ups:
Quitting takes a lot of work to do. Whether you’re giving up on a small project or your own business, quitting is seen as a failure. That’s especially difficult for creative people because those creative ideas feel so personal. The fear of giving up on something keeps many in hopeless situations when their energy could be better utilized in other creative endeavors.
On the other hand, there are times when we give up a bit too quickly. After all, good things take hard work! Godin introduces “the dip,” which is the place you reach when the initial high of a new venture wears off. Things are suddenly way more complex, and the thought of giving up is starting to look appealing. Godin offers an essential guide when you’ve found yourself in the dip.
This is an excellent read if you’re looking for new ideas on approaching resistance. He provides unique problem-solving tips for when you’re at a crossroads in your creative journey. Godin ensures that you can do so confidently whether you turn back or keep going.
The War of Art
This is a good book because everyone can find value in its content. But, whether you’re more creatively inclined or not, you have met resistance. Author Steven Pressfield goes in-depth on how to overcome resistance so you can go on to create your best work.
There’s resistance can look like many things: self-doubt, procrastination, and fear. Pressfield tells some hard truths, like resistance being present throughout all stages of the creative process. He urges you to see life as a creative journey without fixating on the destination.
For such a practical guide on resistance, Pressfield offers surprisingly spiritual insights into the art of creation. Insights that make this one of the best creativity books you can read. He explains that while humans exist on one plane, there’s a higher plane that is eternal, where we can source our creativity and act as a vessel to bring it into our world.
Check out more BIPOC books below:
A must-read book for creatives, this book will show you new ways to look at art and creative living. Gilbert’s writing style is a warm hug, reminding us that we’re just human beings and don’t have to take life so seriously. She lets you in on some good ideas that nobody talks about, like the reality that creating isn’t always going to feel exciting, and that’s okay.
A point that always stuck with me is that all good ideas initially feel daunting. We’ve all had the experience of feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of our imaginations. The author helps us to breathe a sigh of relief and take things one step at a time.
As the author of the popular novel Eat, Pray, Love, I worried that this book would be tone-deaf and unrelatable. Instead, Gilbert does a great job of relating to those operating on a much smaller scale. She bares her life story as a testament to the invaluable lessons she shares. This is it if you’re looking for a new book to awaken your passion for creating.