Working on creative projects can be incredibly satisfying, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If anything, it’s often the other way around. Finding the muse can be an elusive process.
Even professionals aren’t immune to this, as you’ll see in many of the books we’re pulling together in this list. The difference lies not in whether you find your way back to a creative space, but in how you do so.
1. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
This may seem like a dull way to start this list, because even the book’s description describes it as “a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights.” That said, the book is also about finding how to tap into the creativity within you that you may not even know you have.
2. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Sometimes you feel like you need to be absolutely prepared before you start working on something important to you. Steal Like an Artist is there to tell you no, that’s a bad idea. If it’s that important, just get started and figure out the important parts along the way.
3. How to Have Kick-Ass Ideas by Chris Barez-Brown
Of course, getting started on something only really makes sense if you know what you want to do. If the hard part is coming up with what you should be working on next, then How to Have Kick-Ass Ideas may be the book you should pick up next.
4. Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley, David Kelley
With Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, it’s all kind of in the name. This is another book meant more for the business set, but its main lesson is that there is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. You just need to learn to access that part of your mind.
5. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
To hammer that last point home, The Creative Habit takes that as its main mantra. If you want to get better at creativity, you make a habit out of being creative. It sounds simple, but some of the toughest, most worthwhile things often are.
6. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
We’ve all been in that state where everything clicks and it doesn’t feel like you’re trying to make something happen, it’s just happening. In Flow, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studies what exactly this state is, as well as how to get there.
7. Imagine This by Maxine Clair
Many books about creativity lay out guidelines or a process to follow. Imagine This doesn’t do that. Instead, Maxine Clair uses personal stories to illustrate what we can do to keep ourselves motivated to work on the things we love.
8. The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan
If you’ve got the big picture of a creative idea but can’t figure out how to get from their to the finished work, mind mapping could be the key. In The Mind Map Book, Tony Buzan explores mind maps not just as a way to get from point A to point C, but to improve memory, concentration, and your thought process in general.
9. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
If you’ve heard the recently popular term “morning pages,” that’s from The Artist’s Way. Some of the advice here may seem obvious, and it is, but it’s the fact of actually paying attention to and following the advice that makes this book so popular among creatives.
Increase Your Creativity, Build New Habits
Creativity is more of a process than it is a state of being or a goal to achieve. If you’re having trouble with your creative process, it might be time to switch up other processes and routines in your life. If that sounds appealing, take a look at our recommendations for great books about building new habits and routines.
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