Like all children, I was a creative child. I amused myself by playing pretend with friends or alone. Like a soap opera, the pretend stories went on for years. I drew, made things out of clay or blocks, and painted.
But gradually, the ability to pretend slipped away. Criticism of my visual creations, even mild criticism or a puzzled, “What is it?” made me tuck my creativity away in favor of the norm. Encountering creative writing late in elementary school, I froze. The outer critics became my own inner critic.
My artist child withdrew.
Creativity and Adulthood
Adulthood, work, marriage, and children replaced playing with endless pressure and work. I bought the American dream: if you work hard enough you can be anything. Play had no place in my agenda. My artist child grew more and more sullen until I could no longer find her. No amount of coaxing would bring her out.
I convinced myself that some people were just naturally creative – but I was not one of them. The inner critic won. The work won. I forgot that I even had an artist child within me.
Fast forward to my early fifty’s. A nearly life-threatening encounter with acute onset lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease, resulted in my being on disability for four years. I decided to find a way to return to work and to create a new normal. That journey led me to the book Full Catastrophe Living.
Fascinated by the references to mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), I set of in search of a teacher. I found Beth Meeker and studied MBSR for eight weeks. I caught little glimpses of my artist child. Using MBSR as a springboard, I continued exploring my own re-awakening to creativity, joy, and playfulness.
Now, at age 63, I have published two books, one with a traditional publisher and one self-published. My third book will be published in December of 2016. I have taken up public speaking. In January I expect to begin podcasting. I learned to paint. I am replacing the inexpensive purchased prints on my walls with my own creations. I am creating an audio book and learning to podcast.
As long as I nurture my artist child by being faithful to the morning pages (see first books), give her love and encouragement, and plenty of time for recreation and just plain noodling, creativity is as effortless as child’s play.
Here’s how you too, can coax your inner creativity out. Use these books on creativity as your own springboard towards a more colorful tomorrow.
Top 10 Books on Creativity To Read Today
The reader is invited to explore blocks to creativity that originate in childhood and continue to this day. Each of the twelve chapters ends with a series of simple tasks that lead the reader to challenge preconceived notions and release these blocks.
Cameron asks the reader to journal every morning (Morning Pages) and to make a date to go out alone and do something pleasurable each week (Artist’s Date).
A collection of short daily reflections and affirmations that helps the reader maintain and even go beyond the progress begun in The Artist’s Way. One of the books on creativity you shouldn’t miss.
The program of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Jon Kabat-Zinn, leads the reader to recognize the connection between thoughts, feelings, and the behaviors that result from those feelings.
Kabat-Zinn provides the tools to practice mindfulness meditation the benefits of which are awareness of automatic thoughts, stress reduction, and greater creativity.
4. Who Moved My Cheese? An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Sniff and Scurry (two little mice) and Hem and Haw (two tiny people) live in a maze. Every day they go to the cheese station for cheese. One day the cheese is not there. The mice instinctively go in search of new cheese. Hem and Haw have very different reactions. In order to remain creative, we need to learn to move with the cheese.
A series of daily reflections which remind the reader that self-care and growth are for our highest good. Routinely placing others needs above our own prevents us from reaching our potential in life and in creativity. Definitely one of those books on creativity that could make us think.
Joan Borysenko helps the reader understand how as adults, most of us have lost the ability to be authentic as we were as children. Trying to please and be accepted by others leads to a shameful guilt. In saying no to guilt, we begin to say yes to life and restore our creativity.
This is a book for workaholics, busyholics, rushaholics and careaholics. Daily reflections call the reader to examine the constant doing in their lives that derails their creativity, joy, and peace. If the artist child doesn’t get a fair amount of playtime, creativity stops.
Madeleine L’Engle, reminds us that God’s first act was to create. Since we are made in the image of God, we are made to create – every single one of us. Creativity is an incarnational activity. The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birth giver.
Mindfulness is a common thread in all of these books. One can only create when one is mindfully present in this moment. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercises as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness.
10. In You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought: A Book for People with Any Life-Threatening Illness-Including Life
Authors Jon-Roger and Peter McWilliams ask why we do often use the power of our minds to create a negative reality when we can use the power our minds to create a positive reality that provides fertile ground from which creativity springs.
Which of these books on creativity are you interested in?
It’s never too late to start anything. Whether you want to learn painting or try your hand at pottery, these books on creativity should hopefully ignite the creative spark inside you.