Books to Understand Your Creative Journey

Books that help you understand your creative journey

A few years ago, a good friend was collecting nuggets of advice for her daughter’s 18th birthday. She created an album and inserted notes from friends, relatives and loved ones.  I happily agreed to share my advice.

When in doubt-read a book-Patty

My friend was put out over the brevity of my note. After all, I had known this girl since she was a baby. Didn’t I have more to say? But for me, if everyone who ever had doubts or concerns or was curious or intolerant, all they had to do was read a book. The perspective you gain from reading someone else’s words is one of the most enriching activities you can do. I thought the advice was the truest thing I could say.

I love both fiction and nonfiction. I’m a crazy reader. I often have 4-5 books on my bedside table, by my bathtub and in my living room–all book-marked at random pages.  I’ll pick up what suits me.

Lately, there has been a huge influx of amazing titles by some of my favorite authors who are speaking about creativity.

Here are the ones I have loved the most:

1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear


Big Magic

I haven’t finished this book yet and there is a very good reason for it: every sentence needs to sit with you for a while. Elizabeth Gilbert is a wonderful storyteller. She wrote one of my favorite books, The Signature of All Things, and infuses her knowledge of creativity and fear with stories and personal notes. That’s what makes this book so worth reading. She is speaking to all of us.

As art teachers or parents or teachers–whatever roles we take on–understanding the stories we tell ourselves really helps bring our own creative voice to our work. And when you are comfortable with your voice, you can help others bring forth theirs. I shared my love of Big Magic with you earlier this week in this post.

DSS Newsletter subscribers may remember the video link of Marie Forleo interviewing Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s one of the best conversations I listened to in a long, long while, so grab a cup of tea, find a quiet place and listen to what she has to say.


2. Louder than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice

Along the same lines as Big Magic, Todd Henry’s Louder than Words speaks to developing a creative/authentic voice to creators, artists, entrepreneurs and basically anyone who is offering their message to the world. His book is a nuts and bolts guide to being more of you and less of the person beside you.

If you are a blogger, you’ll love the advice in this book:

A vision helps you understand the effect you want your voice to have on your audience; it will give you the drive to keep going when the work itself gets difficult.

I love this. As an entrepreneur, my work is not always easy. I’m constantly putting out my ideas for the world to judge. This book keeps it all in perspective.

Marie Forleo also interviewed him, which you can watch right here:


3. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Do you ever wonder why habits are easy for some people to form but not you? Why is it easier to do work for others but when it comes to working on your own stuff, you can’t do it?

Self-reflection and the understanding about what makes you tick allows you do move through the world so much better. Gretchen Rubin is a great thinker and writer. I’ve listened to her being interviewed for this book and the best interview so far is by podcaster, Jess Lively.

You’ll love the quiz on Gretchen’s website that categorizes everyone into 4 groups. Based on the group you are in, you form habits and make decisions on your life in certain, predictable ways.

I found this fascinating not so much for thinking about my own habits but for relating to others. As you read through the book, you will recognize the different people in your life (your spouse, your kids, your co-worker) and you’ll learn what makes them tick. Its kind of like The Love Languages.


4. The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion

This book looks like the personal diary of artist, Elle Luna. While I personally love the colorful painted pages and inspiring quotes, this book is meant for someone who hasn’t figured out what they want to do with their lives. You may know someone whose creative soul is hidden behind a desk job. That’s who this book is for.

I plan to give my copy to the next young lady who needs a creative push. Lucky girl. I needed this book 20 years ago.

Inspiring books to future your creative soul

Your turn…

Have you read any of these books? What is the ONE book that you always recommend to others? I’d love to hear what your favorite books are!

What do you think?

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  • Linda Rodriguez

    Oh! This list is wonderful! I am half way through “Big Magic” on my journey from art teacher to artist on this, my last year of teaching. This is a transition no one really talks about, so I’m so excited that you are addressing it! Retiring after years of teaching art is really like taking a giant leap of faith into the unknown…what? I don’t have to save egg cartons and magazines anymore?
    And what about all the supplies, books and equipment I have in my art room? Half of it is mine and half of it is the school’s! How do I separate all of that? Whew! So much to do and think about…thanks for the list!

    • Patty Palmer

      So glad you are reading Big Magic. It’s perfect for artists and writers. Congrats that you are switching paths. Since I’ve been full time, I’ve been able to devote so much calm time to my business and let the ideas settle within me. It’ been incredible.
      As for your stuff…take what serves you and leave the rest for the one who made need it.
      Thanks for your comment!

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