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  • Writer's pictureHolly Flynn

Creativity & Inspiration

Updated: Jan 5, 2022

Hello again! It’s been awhile, but I’m glad to be back to my blog. I meant to write more entries (my long-term goal is to get to where I’m posting twice a week), but these past seven weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind; aside from working full-time, I’m also pursuing a degree in Digital Design & Technology and just finished up a 9-hour term. It was rigorous but also a lot of fun, though I’m grateful for a week to decompress before jumping back into classes.

So today, I wanted to tackle an easier topic and recommend some books that deal with creativity and/or inspiration. Though not all of them deal specifically with writing, the concepts translate nicely across all artistic fields.


1. Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

“One of the oldest and most generous tricks that the universe plays on human beings is to bury strange jewels within us all, and then stand back to see if we can ever find them.”

Okay, so this is definitely not your average book on creativity. Many of the ideas that Gilbert presents could be considered radical, including the one that involves ideas as little sparks that float around the universe looking for humans to inhabit. If the idea doesn’t stick, or isn’t fleshed out into something tangible, it moves onto the next person, forever looking for the right home. Though it’s been several years since I’ve read Big Magic, that imagery will always stick with me. Though not all of her ideas are ones I can sign up for, Gilbert’s fresh attitude toward creativity is magnetic, and therefore a must-read for all creatives.

2. The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

“The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist. The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all…Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all.”

Cameron’s seminal work, The Artist’s Way, was the first book about creativity that I ever read–in an interdisciplinary college course titled “Creativity”, no less. Her way of addressing artists really hit home with me, and with many others as well; she knows how to approach their fears, as shown above, as well as the need to take care of oneself, the need to refill the “creative well,” as she puts it. Aside from talking about creativity itself, Cameron also puts forth practices that are meant to help creatives find their voice. Trust me, it’s an enlightening read.

3. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life, Twyla Tharp

“Everything that happens in my day is a transaction between the external world and my internal world. Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity.”

In The Creative Habit, Tharp emphasizes how we can use our surroundings to inspire our own creations. Once we start to learn how to look and listen, we realize that the external world offers a vast well of possibility. With it, we can begin to wire our brains to constantly be on the lookout for fresh ideas, or at the least, little tidbits that can inform our work. The smallest speck of inspiration, after all, can affect one’s work in a tremendous way. Ever since reading Tharp’s work, I’ve been working to train myself to listen, to watch, to figure out how I can use the smallest parts of even the most mundane day to spin something creative out of it. Really, do yourself a favor and pick this one up!

4. Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon

“What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.”

Much like Tharp, Kleon talks about how nothing is truly original when it comes to creative works; rather, they are all inspired by something else. Through this easy-to-read compilation of fun graphs and numbered steps, he inspires us to gather concepts we like from other works and combine them into something new. It’s a comforting and confidence-inspiring read, as it helps us realize that there shouldn’t be any pressure to be “original”, when all that means is that we’re combining old ideas in a new way. It takes a lot of the pressure off and helps us to see the whole process in a fresh light.

So, are there any other great books you can think of when it comes to creativity and inspiration? I’d love for you to leave them in the comments below!

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