9 Essential Books for Creatives

Being a creative is hard work. Putting yourself out there is scary, so your mind convinces you that Facebooking and tweeting are better ways to spend your time. But according to the experts, the fear never goes away. These nine books for creatives will teach you how to work with your fear and to channel it into creating your next masterpiece.

1. The Artist’s Way

This classic is as close as you’re ever going to get to having a bible for your creative craft. Cameron takes you through a 12-week course to recover your creative self and to get rid of the “I’m not good enough” mindset. If you’re ready to rekindle your fire and to show up daily, this book is your answer.

2. The War of Art

For decades, Steven Pressfield was paralyzed by fear in his creative process. In this book, he reminds you that the more scared you are of your calling, the more sure you can be that you have to do it. To fight your fear, take this book into battle with you.

3. Turning Pro

Pressfield’s follow-up to The War Of Art walks through the transition from being an amateur in your creative field to turning pro. Pressfield says you don’t need a course, a product or to be chosen to turn pro. So what do you need? According to him, just a change in mindset.

4. Letters To A Young Poet

This book is a collection of 10 letters sent by Rainer Maria Rilke, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, to an aspiring writer. In the letters, Rilke addresses the importance of solitude for all creatives. He says, “you must be able to walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours.” He urges the aspiring writer to have patience with himself and to embrace difficulty. This book can be read in one sitting, so if you’re short on time, this one is for you.

5. Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice & Projects from 50 Successful Artists

As creatives, we know how hard it is sometimes to find your flow and to keep it. In this book, Danielle Krysa interviews 50 international artists in all fields about how they overcome self-doubt, stay motivated and continue creating. Krysa shows you that all artists struggle with the same demons, and that might just be enough to kickstart your creative process.

6. Bird by Bird

While this book was written by a writer for writers, the lessons apply to all creatives. In fighting your demons and your resistance to creating, Anne Lamott recommends that you start small and take it step-by-step. If you’re putting more effort into thinking (read: freaking out) about your end product than creating, pick up this book.

7. The Creative Habit

You’ve likely struggled with some form of this crippling thought: “I’ll never be as good as x.” But legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp reminds every creative that genius doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s the product of preparation, habit and persistent effort. If you need help showing up to your craft everyday, this is the book for you.

8. Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace

If you’re a creative and work at a company, you might have some additional issues to deal with, like rules, traditions and systems. Gordon MacKenzie shares how he inspired his colleagues at Hallmark for three decades and urged them to dream and to go above and beyond the corporate mindset. Worried that your soul is being destroyed at your 9-5 job? Pick up MacKenzie’s book to find the connection between your creativity and your corporate job.

9. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Okay, so we’ve talked about how difficult it is to get started with any creative project. There’s fear, distractions and resistance. But what happens once you get into your craft? Are you so absorbed in your activity and so focused that you forget the time? Are you in the flow? Psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that flow is what makes most experiences genuinely satisfying. Whether you’ve experienced the flow or not, this book will show you how to make your life more meaningful.

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