5 Books That Will Help You Release Your Inner Creative

These authors explain from experience how to buckle down and think outside the box

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@daphneemarie via Twenty20

It can be tough to limit distractions and focus to think creatively about your work in an age where unlimited human knowledge and constant communication fit conveniently in your pocket. And in a time where there are more freelancers and entrepreneurs than ever before, the added stress of managing businesses doesn’t help. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to filter out the noise and continue to innovate. These books detail how you can recenter, refocus and further your creative work and future.

'The War Of Art' by Steven Pressfield

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In this book, Steven Pressfield outlines the internal barriers many go-getters — artists, athletes, entrepreneurs — encounter in striving to reach their goals. He delivers many anecdotal tips by sharing experiences from his own career as a novelist in bit-size segments, so the lessons are concise and easily digestible. And best of all, he employs compassion to the struggle while also providing best practices to keep on the grind and mute that inner saboteur who so often threatens our own success.

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'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell

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This piece by Malcolm Gladwell has appeared on many a list of must-reads, and it’s easy to see why. He analyzes the most successful people in society and how they got that way, but instead of focusing on their character or qualities, he focuses on a wider scope: their family, their childhood, their experiences navigating the world that led them to where they are. It’s a masterful look at how one can harness their own situation and leverage it into making an impact.

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'Letters to a Young Artist' by Anna Deavere Smith

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This book is highly recommended in artistic circles, and it’s easy to see why. Author Anna Deavere Smith cleverly writes a series of letters to her imaginary protege, BZ, describing how to find confidence, push ahead and manage the beautiful yet chaotic life of an artist. Similarly to The War on Art, Smith delivers tips anecdotally, and she also speaks to the artist navigating the world in contrast to only the internal struggles. For anyone who needs a reset on mindset or a motivational pick-me-up, this book is a must.

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'Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear' by Elizabeth Gilbert


For those who need a no-BS approach to creative endeavors, Elizabeth Gilbert — author of Eat, Pray, Love — nails it. She speaks to the creative or entrepreneurial spirit in a no-nonsense way, detailing how the work must come in even when there are no accolades to be had. But with that work comes the joy and daily reminders of why people on the grind put in the work daily. It’s a kick in the pants with a tone that beautifully balances therapist with drill sergeant. If you need a careful dose of inspiration and discipline, this one’s for you.

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'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho


The list wouldn’t be complete without a novel and, though it may be a bit abstract, bear with me. In Paulo Coelho’s globally acclaimed allegory, we follow the protagonist as he travels countries and encounters roadblocks on the way to his “personal legend.” It’s an extended metaphor for following your calling in life, despite the negative influence of life’s stresses and those who may be jealous of the courage required. It can be a bit New Age-esque at times, but if you take the time to unlock some of the text and understand its intent, it can serve as an encouraging reminder to stay on track and not let preliminary obstacles get you down. Anyone on the grind knows that problems will always arise, but success lies in overcoming them quickly and smartly.

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