6 Books to Help You Reclaim Your Creative Joy
Creative pursuits are a wild ride and a well-timed read can provide us with just the inspiration we need to ride the wave through the highs and persevere through the lows. In this week's post, I want to share some of my favourite books that have inspired me to keep writing, keep sharing, and to do so with a healthy mindset.
There are so many myths and stories about what it means to be a "real creative" and most of them are at best unhelpful and, at worst, elitist BS. What I love about the books below is that, in their own different ways, they encourage us to own our creativity, to be proud of it, and to do what we're doing in the way that's right for us. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have :)
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Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins
We’ve all heard of the “starving artist” cliche, and in this book Jeff Goins sets out to prove that not only is this a myth, but there are tangible steps you can take to make a living—and a good living—from your creative work if you want to.
With a combination of stories, anecdotes and practical advice, this is a useful read for dispelling some of the more toxic lore about what it means to be a creative and forging a much more constructive and fruitful path ahead for your own creative life.
The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna
The Crossroads of Should and Must is based on a viral article Elle Luna wrote about her personal journey towards becoming an artist.
With a four-part structure that follows a similar path to the hero’s journey, the book is part memoir, part inspiration for anyone who needs permission to dig deep and re-evaluate the difference between a job, a career, and a calling in your own life.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Like Real Artists Don’t Starve, Big Magic aims to bust some of the myths about the suffering artist and replace them with far more helpful truths. Although parts of this book were a little more woo-woo than I could relate to, it’s still one of my favourite books on creativity and the creative process, whatever form that takes for you.
I’ve written before about Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice to follow your curiosity and there are many more nuggets of wisdom to take away from this book.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
I've written about The Artist’s Way on Becoming Who You Are before (here and here). Unlike other books on this list, this one takes the form of a structured 12-week course. Each week takes you through a different part of your creative life and encourages you to reconnect with what creativity means to you.
Lots of great advice and useful exercises that encourage you to dig deeper into the psychology behind your personal relationship with creativity. Julia Cameron also has good books on money and writing too.
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Similar to The Crossroads of should and must, Steal Like an Artist is a manifesto of sorts that was expanded from a talk Austin Kleon delivered to college students.
It's a quick read but contains plenty of food for thought that will influence your creative process and open up new possibilities for how you view and go about your work.
You’re Going to Survive by Alexandra Franzen
Any creative pursuit comes with a risk of judgement, failure and rejection. You're Going to Survive is the perfect read for when you either experience something of that ilk or you find your fear of experiencing one or more of the above is preventing you from moving forward and doing the work.
The book is a series of stories from people who have experienced all manner of personal hardships and tragedies, repeated failures and mishaps, and all come out the other side with useful lessons and reflections. It's a great reminder that a) if we're going through a tough time with our work, we're not alone, and b) that however bad it feels in the moment, we will survive.