Want to be more creative? Don’t write that story/paint that picture/sew that quilt/knit that scarf yet. Read a book about writing/painting/sewing/knitting! Better yet, read 12! Read 25! Read a whole bookshelf!
I believe that we learn by doing. But my first step on the path to doing has always been to read a book (or twelve) to prepare. My November creativity challenge is pretty simple: do something creative each day. Knowing that I’ll feel most comfortable and productive if I complement time spent creating with time spent reading about creating, I’ve put together a list of books to explore for this week’s Nonfiction November Be/Become/Ask the Expert link-up.
Cartoonist and writer Lynda Barry’s Syllabus collects some of the materials she uses in her courses on creativity at the University of Wisconsin. Barry is especially interested in why we stop creating as children and what it means to say a piece of art is good or bad. Lots of food for thought here, and plenty of doodly exercises to keep me busy.
Lynda Barry’s What It Is explores how we can retrieve memories and work with images in our writing. Pretty much every page of this book makes me want to write or doodle.
In The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, choreographer Twyla Tharp argues that the best creative work comes from a disciplined life of habit and routine. There are exercises and suggestions as well as many examples from Tharp’s career as well as a wide-ranging look at artists and creators in many different fields.
Danny Gregory’s The Creative License compares being creative to driving a car–a metaphor that at first doesn’t seem very promising. But Gregory finds many ways to extend the metaphor to make it clear that creating is about practice and commitment.
I constantly tell my Freshman Comp students to steal ideas from each other, so I have a feeling I will like Austin Kleon’s message in Steal Like an Artist.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind is more productivity-focused than the other books on my list, but if I find myself struggling to make/find time to be creative, I’ll dip into it for some tips.
What book on creativity would you recommend to me this month?