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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Unleash Your Creativity

We all use creativity every day to solve problems, whether as artists, writers or entrepreneurs or by generating ideas to improve work and family life. Fairfax County Public Library has many titles to help maximize those creative efforts. Here are a few favorites.

The War of Art: Break Through Barriers and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. In this brief but rallying guide to taking charge of your creative path, the author writes about the constant struggle with what he terms “Resistance.”  Resistance is the force that seems to keep us from getting down to the business of creative excellence. Sometimes that force comes in the form of self-doubt, inertia or merely the mundane distractions of daily life. In any case, Pressfield frames his book as a manual to fight the inner battle against Resistance in order to achieve one’s higher creative purpose.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp. Tharp, still achieving in the field of choreography and dance in her seventies, is a lot like Pressfield in her work ethic. Becoming successful, she asserts, is not about having inborn talent or waiting for inspiration to strike but about showing up day after day and getting the work done. As unromantic as it sounds, the key is the discipline of daily habit. In The Creative Habit, she outlines over 30 exercises to inspire new ideas and break out of creative ruts. 

 A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning and Life by Nancy Peacock. This is an engaging book about a published novelist who earns her living as a housecleaner. Nancy Peacock’s first novel, Life Without Water, was selected by The New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year. Although she received an advance for her next novel, the money ran out before the book was finished, and Peacock went back to cleaning houses. She writes humorously about houses she has cleaned and their inhabitants, and in the process, readers learn about her writing process. It will strike a chord with anyone who has ever had to work a “day job” to support a dream. In a special section at the end, she gives advice on writing. Writers should also read Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King.

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman. In 2012 Neil Gaiman gave a commencement speech at University of the Arts of Philadelphia which became an instant YouTube sensation. “Make Good Art” is now available in book form. While Gaiman ignited controversy by admitting to falsifying some credentials in early efforts to get published, there is nevertheless much wisdom in his speech. He encourages artists to make mistakes: “If you're making mistakes, it means you're out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once misspelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, ‘Coraline looks like a real name...”’  (Coraline became an award-winning book and movie.) 

-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, Kings Park Library

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