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Helpful Books for Forging a Creative Path

books for creatives

I have shared some ‘Good Reads’ on the blog in the past.  However, I thought it would be helpful and useful to share the books, along with a brief synopsis and thoughts for each book, that have been especially helpful to me in pursuing a creative path.


Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

I first read Art & Fear during college and I have read it many times since.  This is one of my favorite books.  It explores the way art gets made, why it often does not get made, and the difficulties that arise along the way.  Most of all, this book helps to reshape your perspective and overcome your fear and attain your goals.


Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I also first read Ways of Seeing during college and I have read several times since.  Ways of Seeing is a collection of seven essays.  Three are pictorial; four are textual.  All essays are about art; how art is seen; how it is valued; how it is used; and what we can learn from looking at art.  I found this book very informative.


The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I have read The War of Art several times and this book is a practical guide for thriving in the creative world.  This is another one of my favorite books.  The wisdom in The War of Art can be used to help you accomplish any goal you set for yourself.  The key is beating resistance, a force that keeps one from living up to his/her potential.


This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love by Tama Kieves

I read This Time I Dance several years ago for the first time.  Tam Kieves is a former attorney who chose to leave practicing law and follow her true calling, writing.  Her story, which she shares in this book, about her career transition, is very inspiring and insightful.


The Power of Patience by M.J. Ryan

The Power of Patience offers many different ways of looking at patience and practicing patience each day.  I really enjoyed this book.  I found this book easy to read and filled with helpful information and various perspectives concerning patience.  Being creative, I have learned, requires a significant amount of patience and fortitude.

The portion of this book that resonated with me discussed patience in relation to receptivity.  Here is a quote from this book.  “However, the receptive energy of patience is real work!  It takes an effort to not simply run off and do something for the sake of doing it, to live in the unknown for as long as it takes without becoming angry, bitter, or depressed.  It may look like nothing on the surface.  But underneath, within ourselves, we’re lifting some heavy timber.”


Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Johnathan Fields

I enjoyed reading Uncertainty.  In a nutshell, this book is about managing the creative process, particularly with regard to entrepreneurial pursuits.  In this book, Jonathan Fields draws on his own experience of success, transformation, effort, and uncertainty and provides guidance on how to face our fears and use them to propel us forward, rather than hold us paralyzed.  Not only is this book motivational, inspiring you to take courageous decisions, it also provides practical advice on how to deal with the fear and take steps to avoid disaster.


Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown presents her findings on the concepts of shame, weakness, and vulnerability.  Defining vulnerability “as exposure, uncertainty, and emotional risk,” Brene Brown has stated that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”  Brene Brown maintains that this feeling is the crux of most of our meaningful experiences.  Ultimately, she writes, it is not a weakness; everyone is vulnerable, we all need support via friends and family.  Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand.  Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice,” she writes, “we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.  This is vulnerability.  This is daring greatly.”   When we choose to dare greatly, the rewards are vast: We feel more loved and are more loving, we feel worthy of that love, we choose our path and commit to it with daily practice, and we live with courage, engagement and a clear sense of purpose.


Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamontt

I read this book again last year while on vacation.  This is one of my favorite books chalked full of wisdom.  Below are a few of my favorite quotes from this book.

“You may need someone else to bounce your material off of, probably a friend or a mate, someone who can tell you if the seams show, or if you’ve lurched off track, or even that it is not as bad as you thought … But by all means let someone else take a look at your work.  It’s too hard always to have to be the executioner.”

“And I don’t think you have that kind of time either.  I don’t think you have the time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it, and I don’t think you have time to waste on someone who does not respond to you with kindness and respect.”

“The best thing about being an artist, instead of a madam or someone who writes letters to the editor, is that you get to engage in satisfying work.”


Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! by Tama Kieves

I read Inspired and Unstoppable last year, which is a follow-up book to This Time I Dance!  Tama Kieves contemplates in this book that the way to success is an ‘inspired path,’ not a linear one.  In this book, she brings her ideas and actions together to help others choose to follow an ‘inspired path.’  I found the sentiments in this book insightful and helpful.


Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

Art Inc. offers a concise guide for anyone seeking to start or enhance their career in art, with actionable tasks and helpful tools.  Lisa Congdon’s writing is clear, easy to understand, and inspiring.  I especially enjoyed the interviews with other artists that appeared throughout the book.  I also enjoyed reading the information relating to exhibitions and gallery representation.  Overall, the information contained in this book was very helpful and informative.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. You made me wanna read The Power of Patience. I feel like patience is always a very good characteristic to have. Not a lot of people are very patient especially in our time. I hope it will help me with my studies whenever I get stressed and annoyed with it hahaha. I do not have patience at all. Thanks!!

    April 8, 2015

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