These 7 Books Will Change How You Think About Being A Creative

I read some great books in 2021 that changed completely how I think about my creative practice, how I create, and how I get things done.

Before reading these books I had no system for creating, no way of managing my work, and no idea that I could create things others would find helpful. Slowly but surely, reading each book and applying what I learned has resulted in the creative practice that I live each day. I couldn’t imagine working any differently.

Here are 7 of the best books all creatives should read this year:

1 The Accidental Creative

Author: Todd Henry

What You’ll Learn

  • What creative constraints are and how you can use them to improve your creativity.
  • The importance of a regular creative practice and how to develop one for yourself.
  • How to deal with the assassins of creativity which include fear, expectation escalation, and dissonance.

The Book In 3 Ideas

  1. Creative productivity comes in ebbs and flows. Some days we can be very creative but other days we can’t think of anything creative or worthwhile.
  2. A regular creative practice will help to develop your creativity muscle so you can generate creative insights on demand.
  3. True freedom is healthy constraints.

Want to learn more: here are my book notes

2 Steal Like An Artist

Author: Austin Kleon

What You’ll Learn

  • How to overcome impostor syndrome by understanding that nothing is original. This will allow you to focus on creating things you enjoy.
  • How to cultivate great sources of knowledge to learn and take inspiration from.
  • The importance of side projects and having a creative outlet.

The Book In 3 Ideas

  1. Nothing is original. Everything is a mashup of existing ideas.
  2. Garbage in, garbage out. It is up to you to consume interesting and high-quality content as this will shape what you create.
  3. Use a blog as an incubator for great ideas. There are people that will find this content motivating and useful.

Want to learn more: here are my book notes

3 A Whack On The Side Of The Head

Author: Roger Von Oech

What You’ll Learn

  • How to unlock the mental locks that limit your creativity. Once you learn this you’ll find it so much easier to create.
  • How to challenge your thinking. Instead of being reigned in by your thinking, you’ll learn to use your thinking process to your advantage.
  • How to generate creative ideas. The secret sauce of being creative.

The Book In 3 Ideas

  1. Simply knowing something doesn’t make you creative. What makes you creative is what you do with that knowledge.
  2. In school, we are taught to find the right answer. This implies there is only one right answer. However, in life, there are many right answers.
  3. Sometimes a failure can serve as a stepping stone to the right idea. Focus on what worked and understand what didn’t.

4 Peak

Author: Anders Ericsson

What You’ll Learn

  • What deliberate practice is and why it’s beneficial.
  • How to harness deliberate practice and incorporate it into your life to achieve your goals/dreams.
  • Different mental models for thinking and how to think about your mind and your skills.

The Book In 3 Ideas

  1. Everyone can improve with deliberate practice no matter how old you are.
  2. The key to deliberate practices is to focus on what you’re learning, observe where you are falling down, and fix it by trying different methods.
  3. Well-defined and accurate mental representations are what separates beginners from experts. An expert’s mental models will allow them to more effectively tackle a problem or perform a certain activity.

Want to learn more: here are my book notes

5 Getting Things Done

Author: David Allen

What You’ll Learn

  • A powerful framework for organizing your tasks and ultimately your life
  • Your brain is for having ideas not holding them. Learn to write things down and get them out of your head.
  • How to set up a system for managing tasks. This system can be implemented with pen and paper or with a task management tool like Todoist. Whatever works for you.

The Book In 3 Ideas

  1. Having a system you trust to hold your thoughts will give you peace of mind. This allows your mind to focus on your current task.
  2. A “productivity system” will be different for everyone. The key is to take the parts that work for you and implement those.
  3. Regular reflection of your systems and lists is necessary to stay clear and current.

Want to learn more: here are my book notes

6 The Bullet Journal Method

Author: Ryder Carrol

What You’ll Learn

  • The value of self-reflection and why you should start practicing.
  • How to develop a system for writing down your thoughts, tasks, events, everything you need to manage in your life.
  • Writing things down empties your mind and allows you to focus on your work.

The Book In 3 Ideas

  1. Self-reflection is an important system to help you learn from your experiences and improve.
  2. Writing things down and getting them out of your mind will allow you to think more clearly.
  3. Writing by hand allows you to slow down and carefully consider what you’re writing. This allows you to write in your own words and makes remembering what you write down more effective.

Want to learn more: here are my book notes

7 How To Take Smart Notes

Author: Sönke Ahrens

What You’ll Learn

  • How to take notes that you’ll remember
  • Building a knowledge vault will remove the problem of the blank page
  • Writing notes in your own words will help your understanding

The Book In 3 Ideas

  1. Cultivating a library of knowledge means you’ll never have to start from a blank page. Creating becomes more enjoyable.
  2. By writing book notes in your own words you cement your understanding of what you’ve read. This will help you learn information more effectively.
  3. Creating a system that is organized for easy content retrieval will help you to achieve the “mind like water” that David Allen talks about in Getting Things Done.

Want to learn more: here are my book notes

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P.S. This article started out as a thread on Twitter:

Originally published at https://www.mishacreatrix.com on March 7, 2022.

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Michelle Mac

Michelle Mac

Follow me to learn about creation, design, and productivity. Start here: https://heymichellemac.com/