Catalyst for Creativity & Courage Booklist

If we are alive, we are creative. But sometimes we need a boost from a book.

Posted May 20, 2016

Jarmoluk/Pixabay
Source: Jarmoluk/Pixabay

I’ve started holding a series of workshops, playshops to be exact. Catalyst for Creativity and Courage playshops. Why did I decide to focus on these two sometimes elusive particulars?

Because, as I scrabbled my life back together after getting hit with bipolar disorder and a spiritual emergency (and getting walloped is the only way I can describe it) I learned tools to manage my conditions. What I discovered was that creativity and courage had to be essential elements of my treatment plan and my life if I was to get and stay well. Creativity and courage stand on equal footing with my other pivotal tools. Medication, therapy, sleep, exercise, courage and creativity are all easy bedfellows in my life.

Maybe you have a psychiatric condition or maybe you don’t. But what you do want is your voice to be heard. Maybe you’ve always sensed your story needs to be told and you’re the one to tell it. Or for some vague reason but vivid feeling this is the time that your little light is meant to shine. ‘Oh, this little light of mine - I'm gonna let it shine’.

The world yearns for stories. For truth to be told; your truth to be told. But sometimes we need encouragement and reminders to spur ourselves on in the journey of telling our tales and trailblazing into our creative landscapes. I know I do.

Fear. Perfectionism. Resistance. To a greater or lesser degree, I wrestle daily with these symbiotic siblings. Each reeking a particular kind havoc upon my mental state and creative spirit.

Connecting with your creativity might feel daunting (or not) or like you’ll never find the time or maybe it feels lonely or any number of very reasonable explanations. But creativity and courage don’t live in the realm of rational thinking. They fly by you, swoop down, take you and let you go and then they come again by for another pass – if you let them. The steps you take towards creativity don’t need to be grand or even graceful, they just need to be taken.

"Courage stands on the shoulders of fear."

The following is a list of books that can help lead you baby step by baby step into your creative corral. Books like these and the exercises within them helped me reclaim my creative spark along with my sanity and sense of self. Whether you are an alumni of the creative cosmos and have been off the radar and out of orbit or if you are just entering this magical stratosphere for the first time, you may find these books can fortify your mettle so you forge forward in your creativity and your life.

Not all will resonate of course. But take a peek – don’t judge these books by their covers (literally). See if what they hold between their paper arms, holds something for you.

"If we are alive, we are creative. Every choice we make is by nature creativity in action."

And then, inspired by said texts, I invite you to give a respectful acknowledging nod to resistance, fear and perfectionism, and dive into a little more courage, a little more creativity so that we have a little more of YOU in this world.

Here’s my list of go-to books (in no particular order). May they help get the muse beside you, get your butt to the chair and fingers to the keyboard:

1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Elizabeth Gilbert)  - Best-selling author of Eat Pray Love offers her own perspective on embracing creativity in life.

2. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Anne Lamott) - With humor and practical advice, writer Anne Lamott addresses common questions most writers have.

3. The Art of Memoir (Mary Karr) - One of the foremost memoirists explores this popular literary form with wit, insight and sage advice.

4. The War of Art (Steven Pressfield) - An excellent guide to help creatives overcome resistance.

5. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within  (Natalie Goldberg)

6. Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life (Natalie Goldberg) - The preceding two books offers Goldberg’s iconic ‘rules for writing practice’ & quintessential writing prompts.

7. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (Julia Cameron) - The seminal guidebook about the creative process and creative self-renewal. Cameron has written more than 30 books, both non-fiction and fiction. All offer helpful insight into the creative process.

8. 642 Tiny Things to Write About (San Francisco Writers’ Grotto) - Fun quick writing prompts. They have a series of books.

9. Now Write! Nonfiction (Sherry Ellis) - Essays on writing with helpful exercises.

10. The Arvon Book of Life Writing (Sally Cline & Carole Angier) - Writing tips and insights on all aspects of writing biography, autobiography & memoir

11. Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses ‘No, But’ Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration (K. Leonard / T. Yorton) - Executives of Chicago’s famed Second City improv troupe describe the 7 key elements of improv, and offer accompanying exercises to apply in daily life

12. 101 Improv Games for Children & Adults (Bob Bedore) - An excellent guide listing a wide variety of improv games for experience levels

© 2016 Victoria Maxwell