In this article, find three summaries and book reviews to help you choose a book on creativity!
The authors of the books summarized here are convinced: everyone is capable of being creative, and creating is a faculty that we all have to escape daily tensions! However, it is good to know some tips to free and develop this creativity. Some books rely on hands-on, day-by-day exercises to unlock the artistic instinct buried within us, while others encourage us to live our dreams as artists to achieve our full potential.
1 – « The Artist’s Way » By Julia Cameron
Julia Cameron is an American artist, born in 1948. Novelist and poet, she also worked as a journalist and director. She began to focus on creative freedom following a personal observation: indeed, for a long time, she associated drinking with her creativity, when at the age of 30, she decided to dissociate the two. and directing his life without the use of stimulants. This is how she developed many exercises and began to help artists in need of inspiration. With her first courses, which she named “The paths of creativity”, she allowed many artists to overcome their blockage. Finally, a book was born following these exchanges. A book on creativity inspired by encounters and offering as many people as possible the benefit of valuable advice.
Ten important principles according to Julia Cameron
- Life is naturally full of creativity.
- A hidden creative force inhabits us throughout life.
- By opening up to our creativity, we release the creator within us.
- We ourselves are creations.
- Creativity is a present of life (or of the Universe).
- Refusing to be creative is contrary to our deep nature.
- By exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to spiritual forces.
- As we make the effort to be creative, we will discover many small changes to make.
- We should not be afraid to increase our creativity.
- Our hopes and our creative impulses are the fruit of a spiritual source.
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Twelve weeks to dust off your inner life
Believe in our own religion
Julia Cameron has faith and she wants to pass it on. However, those of us who are atheists need not be afraid: it is not necessarily a question of believing in God. There are, in fact, many entities on which it is possible to set your sights:
- The universe.
- Any other source of inspiration.
Thus, it is up to us to choose our own object of belief.
We can act in the morning
The author invites us to write, in a notebook, all the thoughts, positive or negative that go through our heads when we wake up. First, it will allow us to start the day smoothly. Then, these little questions will follow us throughout our activities. In fact, it is not a question of writing our first novel, but rather of entering into a form of meditation.
Let’s stimulate the artist who is in us
By giving ourselves 2 hours a week to do things entirely for ourselves (visit an exhibition, attend a concert, etc.), we will feed our “creative well”. These times for oneself called, by the author, “artists’ meetings” bring a benevolent look at our creativity.
Let’s refuse to be a ghost artist
Let us beware of the styles of life and success that have been thought out for us. It is not about rebelling, but it is necessary to understand that there are no limits to creativity. Consequently, let’s not let frustration overwhelm us and start our creative project today.
Let’s chase away the moralizer who prevents us from moving forward
All the little remarks accumulated over time prevent the artist who lives in us from expressing himself. Thus, noting all these criticisms in what the author calls “the morning pages” (morning writing), allows us to gradually move them away from our minds.
Let’s run away from the troublemakers
By trying to categorize our environment into two parts, we will see more clearly in what it brings us. Indeed, we will perceive that there are benefactors and polluters. This is the reason why it is necessary to privilege contacts with people who do us good.
Adopt a positive attitude
By listing all the things we’d like to accomplish, you’ll trigger opportunities. This is how we will be drawn to new experiences. Despite the apprehension, let us learn and force ourselves to respond in a positive way.
Let’s view the images of our ideal project
The idea is to choose images, stickers or quotes to create the collage of our dream life. By forming a collage with these visuals, we indicate to our unconscious that our dream can become reality.
The magic of creation begins to operate
At this point, we already feel that profound changes are taking place within you. Especially since, gradually, we adjust all the cursors which leads us to boost our creativity.
Let’s be thorough, not perfectionist
The best is the enemy of good. Indeed, it is useless to try to reach artistic completion. Moreover, this approach would aim to undo all the efforts and progress that we have made.
Review of Julia Cameron’s ‘Unleash Your Creativity’
Julia Cameron tested her method herself, and it shows! In this book on creativity, she accompanies us like a real coach during these 12 weeks of change. And we are free to choose our pace, according to our daily life. Among the exercises and tips, the “morning pages” are surely the most subtle idea of this book. Likewise, “artist meetings” are a real breath of fresh air with the feeling of being with yourself.
Strong points :
- The pages we write in the morning: a good way to let off steam, re-motivate ourselves, refocus and unblock, at home, what prevents us from moving forward.
- A stimulating read to take control of our dreams and better connect to our unconscious.
- The rediscovery of the small, insignificant and essential things that populate our daily lives.
- The idea of not feeling guilty about taking care of yourself.
Weak points :
- The prospect of relying on divine help is a bit frightening. However, if the author is a believer, it is not necessary to adhere to this to follow her advice. Indeed, God can be replaced by other notions (the Universe, nature or even our own inspiration).
- The translation is a bit poor: those who have notions in English may prefer the original version “The Artist’s Way“.
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2. « The creative visualization workbook» By Shakti Gawain
Shakti Gawain is an American author specializing in personal development. She grew up in an atheist family, rather hermetic to religious and philosophical teachings. Following an emotional breakup, she embarks on a quest for the meaning of life. In this process, she traveled to Europe and then to India, a country that would become one of her inspirational models. Its main strength is its vision bringing together the intuitive wisdom of the East and the rational approach of the West. A true pioneer of personal development, her books have sold more than ten million copies in thirty languages. She led seminars, until her death in 2018. Of our three book summaries on creativity, this one is the most concrete, because Shakti Gawain offers a program of exercises that are simple to apply.
Make creative vision second nature
Shakti Gawain has developed a progressive method to embark on the creative vision and to tame it. The action plan developed throughout the book is relatively simple. It consists of :
- Learn the basics.
- Focus on specific goals.
- Get rid of negative beliefs.
- Act in every area of our existence.
- To be in symbiosis with one’s creativity, one’s positivism and one’s own intuitions.
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In the beginning: the basics
Shakti Gawain offers four simple exercises to access our personal creative visualization. It is about projecting ourselves into a world that we could consider idyllic and feeling the well-being that we could experience.
First exercise: using the pink bubble technique
It is about focusing on things that we have accomplished and that tend towards our ideal. Then, to introduce this image into a pink bubble and let it fly away. It is a symbolic thought to help us let go and strengthen our confidence in our wishes.
Second exercise: daring written affirmations
The idea of this exercise is to transform our fears or fears into positive affirmations. We prefer to hear “I’m going to organize myself for…” to “I won’t have time to…”. With a little practice, we will clear our negative beliefs and replace them with positive affirmations.
Third exercise: define your ideal picture
We need to point to an objective that we want to achieve in the short or medium term, and then describe it in detail. Then we will write a positive sentence about the happiness of feeling this desire come true. Perhaps we will be surprised to see that we have reached it without realizing it.
Fourth exercise: build your treasure map
It is about composing a collage with images representing our dearest dreams. We will also have to choose a symbol of the universe according to our affinities (Buddha, the sun, a God, etc.) and incorporate our photo into the composition.
At the end of this part, exercises are proposed to put these principles into practice.
Let’s set specific goals
This can be a concrete goal or simply the wish to live fully in the present moment. Depending on how it works, in this book on creativity, we learn to restrain our impulses or, on the contrary, to stimulate them to take action.
It is then necessary to take care of:
- Challenging yourself is realistic for short-term goals and idealistic for long-term ones.
- Focus on the outcome and not on the path to follow.
- Try to live these experiences like games, giving free rein to your imagination and creativity.
- Once this step has been completed, reformulate these objectives in an affirmative way, and write down the list of your goals for one month, six months, one year, two, etc. to life goals.
It’s time to do some cleaning!
Here, Shakti Gawain teaches us to transform our negative beliefs into positive beliefs. This cleansing takes place on an emotional, mental, spiritual and physical level.
- Elementary cleaning: it is a question of transforming our doubts into affirmations of clarification to finally manage to formulate them in a positive way.
- Forgiveness as a solution: by forgiving others, and by imagining a conversation with the people who have hurt us, we free ourselves from weight.
- No more guilt: we will go the opposite way to get rid of our regrets when we have hurt someone.
The author then presents a list of very frequently felt negative beliefs. It ranges from feeling like we can’t decide how our lives will turn out to being afraid of dissatisfaction. Then, she encourages us to accept that we not only have the right to be happy, but that we also deserve it. We finally learn that we have the right to fail. On the other hand, and this is essential, we must remain ourselves and let ourselves be guided by our spiritual conscience.
A series of exercises will be added to put all these fundamentals of creative visualization into practice.
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Our life is a set of specific areas
We are the sum of different areas:
- The relationship we have with ourselves.
- Our relationship with each other.
- The way we manage our work and our finances.
- Our relationship with our habitat and our possessions.
- The care we give to our health and our appearance.
- Our travels and our hobbies.
- The world in which we live.
Shakti Gawain then offers us to take the basic advice to apply them to each area.
Our positive energy is our guide
Shakti Gawain invites us to appreciate ourselves and to be in harmony with ourselves. Here are the steps to follow in this process:
- Take the time to question ourselves about what we like about ourselves and what we have achieved.
- Identify what we value in our life and what we could improve for our well-being.
- Help others and support them in their projects.
- Write down our ideas, even the craziest ones, and record our dreams to turn them into positive thoughts.
- Train ourselves to acquire an intuitive organization that will accompany us every day, without even thinking about it.
Review of “Creative Visualization Techniques” by Shakti Gawain
Those who are going through a period of stagnant life or lack of dynamism will find, in this book on creativity, how to reconnect with action. The exercises are simple but extremely effective. This reading leads us to discover, within us, unsuspected resources and invites us to take the road towards our dreams. By carrying out our projects, from the most modest to the most ambitious, our daily life will be turned upside down to become a rich experience. In the end, this book is an invitation to take your destiny into your own hands and to take great strides without waiting for others to be the source of our success. And it is, according to Shati Gawain, undoubtedly the most rewarding form of freedom that is given to everyone, to follow their dreams.
Strong points :
- Easy to practice exercises.
- The exercise book can be supplemented by reading the theoretical book, to deepen certain concepts. However, it can also stand on its own.
- Spaces are provided for the reader to comment on the exercises.
Weak points :
- The exercises seem, at first sight, too simple to be credible, whereas they turn out, in reality, to be very effective.
- The beliefs part is a bit sloppy; this book on creativity can therefore be supplemented by other readings to change in a lasting way.
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3. « Big magic | Creative living beyond fear » By Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is an American essayist, biographer and novelist. When she was 32, she decided to embark on a trip around the world. From this experience, she drew a book, “Eat, Pray, Love“, which has sold five million copies worldwide. “As by Magic” is his last work. In this book on creativity, everything comes together to bring us into a joyful universe. The author invites us to delve into our interior to discover our hidden treasures. She then reveals to us the six forces necessary to liberate our creativity.
Part 1 – Have the Courage
Go in search of your buried treasures
In her book “As by magic”, Elizabeth Gilbert explains to us that we have wealth within us to exploit. To transform an ordinary life into an enchanted destiny, one must have the courage to lead a creative existence.
Curiosity must trump fear
This creative existence, as Elizabeth Gilbert understands it, is a life that we fully occupy by experiencing the treasures we have within us. It is an art of living that is naturally opposed to a life of simple consumers.
Fear inhibits creativity
Fear is really an obstacle to aspire to a creative existence. While courage helps us overcome our fears, fearlessness is ignorance of danger.
It is important to tame this fear and not want to destroy it at all costs. Indeed, without this fear, creativity cannot flourish, as these two notions go hand in hand.
Part 2 – Let’s be enchanted
Magical thinking is the key to creativity
In “As by magic”, the author admits to having an approach far from scientific explanations. Elizabeth Gilbert actually has a real attraction for invisible, unreal and mystical things. For her, the notion of creativity is particularly driven by ideas as much as by living organisms.
Let us be invaded by ideas
According to the author, we are surrounded by a multitude of ideas that float around us in search of an available human. We then have two options. Either, we are available and we welcome them so that they develop. Or on the contrary, we are totally closed or busy with something else: from then on, ideas go to other horizons.
If we are open enough to start a relationship with an idea, then we will be able to choose between two solutions:
- With a negative response from us, it will continue on its way.
- On the other hand, if we welcome it in a positive way, it is a change that we will have to assume.
The myth of the suffering artist is outdated
In this book on creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert breaks the myth of the artist who only creates in suffering. This theory, still deeply rooted in Western mentalities, is, according to her, to be avoided. On the contrary, it is a question of abandoning oneself with joy and modesty to the whirlwind of creativity.
Ideas are contagious
Elizabeth Gilbert admits to having experienced a strange ordeal which she describes as the most magical experience of her life.
One day she had an idea for a luminous novel which she immediately put into execution, until a personal event interrupted her project. When she wanted to resume writing, the idea had abandoned her, certainly out of weariness. When this happens, the author advises to wake up and stay on the lookout for other ideas that are looking for implementers. What she did. But, a few years later, one of her friends, Ann Patchett, introduced her to the subject of the novel she was writing. She realizes with amazement that the story is almost identical to the one she had started to write. For them, there is no doubt, the idea passed from one to the other during their first meeting.
Inspiration Must Be Shaped to Fulfill
We have all regretted one day when someone took hold of one of our ideas to accomplish enviable things. It is necessary from the outset to remove from the mind any feeling of jealousy or injustice. It is the essence of ideas, they move around until they find a buyer willing to make them a reality.
Work, embodiment and flexibility
Elizabeth Gilbert admits to working hard even when she is not inhabited by ideas. Indeed, according to her, you have to put yourself in a situation of predisposition to welcome ideas, as if you were in the ideal place. Likewise, inspiration has the ability to come and go. We must accept this state of affairs and try to collaborate with it according to its fluctuations.
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Part 3 – The legitimacy of creativity
It is allowed to create
In “As by magic”, the author says that she did not grow up in a creative family. That didn’t stop her from thriving in writing. And this, because she was lucky enough to be encouraged to do things, quite simply. It is also important to understand that we must not wait for the acquiescence of others to achieve our desires. In reality, creativity is the characteristic of man that we must not restrain.
Audacity as a creative tool
For Elizabeth Gilbert, it comes down to convincing us that we have every right to be creative and to chase ideas that could deviate from this path.
You don’t have to invent
To begin with, we have to accept that a lot has already been done. That’s no reason not to be creative, because they weren’t made by us. Moreover, by forcing originality, we risk falling into sentimentality. The most important thing, in the end, is to make things that look like us.
Art studies, a dead end
In “As by magic”, the author advises against following an artistic course, because she believes that the profession of artist is so particular and personal that it cannot be learned. By investing heavily financially, she believes that students are likely to feel strong guilt for not breaking through. Also, since job security does not exist in this field, it will be difficult to put those long years of study to good use.
Take an interest, cultivate yourself and accumulate knowledge
In this book on creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert encourages us to explore the world and to store knowledge and skills. Thus, the more we advance in life, the more our luggage will be imposing. Finally, it is by putting aside the ideas that slow us down in our creativity and by drawing inspiration from our mentors that we will succeed.
Let’s be happy to be creative
The author does not like artists who complain about the difficulty of their work. For Elizabeth Gilbert, in fact, it comes down to chasing ideas and inspiration. On the contrary, it is more interesting and productive to take into account all the facets of creation and to be proud and happy to accomplish it in its entirety.
The labels we are given and the gaze of others do not matter
Whatever we create, we cannot hold ourselves responsible for what it will cause in others. Through this book on creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert teaches us to detach ourselves from the judgment of others. Likewise, by continuing to do what pleases us regardless of the opinions of others, we will approach creation in a healthy way.
Art is not serious
We must realize that art is not a serious process. Rather, it should be a reflection of a delicious experience that complements the essentials. That’s what makes it beautiful.
The issue is freedom
Except in the case of a totalitarian regime where art takes turns of rebellion or risk-taking, art must be considered without any notion of urgency. You don’t have to torture yourself to create. Why not just try making art for fun?
Art is contradiction: as useless as necessary
To fulfill its role, art must be both necessary and utterly futile. It is thanks to this paradox that art becomes healthy and beneficial.
Part 4 – Hold over time
The promise of success
In this book on creativity, the author invites us to make a promise to ourselves: to succeed! This is how she decided very young to become a writer and not to let go of anything to get there. Elizabeth Gilbert also insists that we can become a pro in our specialty in just 10 years. So there is no special time in a person’s life to begin with.
The dark side of creativity
Few creators are lucky enough to succeed often in what they undertake. More often than not, the culmination of something great is one accident among many failures. This is why we must train ourselves to be able to take bad experiences without being discouraged.
Don’t bet everything on creation
Elizabeth Gilbert admits to having continued to practice her profession before trying to make a living from her art. Indeed, she thinks that the stress caused by the need to earn a living can spoil inspiration. On the other hand, creating without worrying about the profit aspect is an ideal solution to get started.
A little, a lot, passionately
To succeed in art, we must above all love it passionately. This is how we will find time to devote to him, a bit like in an extra-marital relationship!
Perfection does not exist
Seeking to achieve perfection means taking the risk of never getting started, like never finalizing a creative work.
To get out of our routine
We are all potential creators. Also, this state will allow us to abandon for a moment what we really are from a physical, mental or societal point of view.
Doing for the best, but not necessarily better
The quest for perfection can turn out to be a trap, because it prevents us from moving forward and succeeding in the creative process.
Starting over is always working
Luck provokes itself and you must not hesitate to persist until you succeed. There are times in life when efforts will be rewarded by favorable circumstances.
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Part 5 – Act with conviction
Reconnect with our innate abilities
We are inseparable from the earth and we must remember that we are in constant interaction with it to become creative partners.
The cursed artist is outdated
“As by Magic” is a very positive book on creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert explains to us that we must give up the belief that our pathologies are at the origin of our creative capacity. Therefore, it is much more interesting to apply to create with joy by considering it as a game.
Cunning as a guideline
The rogue is the opposite of the martyr. While the latter is condemned to get bogged down in a rigid and solemn world, the rogue is a mine of creativity. Indeed, his subversive side and his lightness make him an inspired creator.
Prefer to be curious than passionate
Healthy curiosity is far from being a bad defect, because it is what will allow us to move forward slowly, but surely. Conversely, passion is a source of marked emotions that are too random to constitute a good basis for work.
Do not cultivate your ego too much
Buddhists use a term for an unbalanced ego: the hungry ghost. To counter it, there is nothing better than nourishing our soul and directing us to a sense of wonder, not dissatisfaction.
Insisting in case of failure is a waste of time
When we fail, it’s best to move on to release frustration and disappointment. Elizabeth Gilbert explains to us that Einstein played the violin when he couldn’t finish a job. It was then that the solution offered itself to him, thanks to this practice called “combinatorial play”. Finally, it is good to remember that it is in action that inspiration delights most.
No need to justify
On the other hand, it is necessary to reveal oneself by showing one’s work. So we can check how much we love what we do. It is by accepting the success or failure that our work will have that we will be sure to have had a positive creative process.
Review of “As Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert
If we had to highlight 3 main ideas to define the process of creativity according to Elizabeth Gilbert, it would be:
- Measure the joy that the experience gives us.
- Live creative research fully and with pleasure.
- Marvel at the magic that emerges from our work.
“As by Magic” has many anecdotes that make the book easy and pleasant to read. Elizabeth Gilbert helps us reflect on the behavior we need to adopt to free ourselves and foster our creativity. In the end, “As by Magic” is an extremely inspiring book on creativity.
Strong points :
- A tone in depth and lightness for a realistic result.
- The magical aspect of creativity is approached in an original and obvious way.
- The reader is transported from anecdotes to funny and expressive stories.
- It is a eulogy of pleasure, positivity and the joy of creating.
Weak points :
- The book is perhaps too based on the author’s personal experience.
- The plot of the book is a little generalist and abstract.
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And you, what is the book on creativity that you would like to recommend? What book on creativity has inspired you the most? I look forward to your suggestions and opinions in the comments!