Books about Creativity

As a comment in my last post, Christa mentioned a book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life, by Twyla Tharp, one of my favorite choreographers.

I’m intrigued by the concept of creativity as a driving force, a healthy outlet, and a means of communication.  I am also interested in the question of whether or not creativity is something innate in all of us — whether it is a natural born talent, or whether it can be learned.  It is certainly, in any case, a gift that must be nurtured in order to grow.

Early on in my professional career as a Director of Student Services for Saybrook Institute Graduate School and Research Center, I had the opportunity to meet one of the nation’s foremost researchers on the topic, existential psychologist Rollo May.  There were several other faculty members at Saybrook tackling this immense topic, Stanley Krippner being one of the most memorable.

An Amazon search on “creativity” turns up 162,836 books on the topic, and even though I’ve been dabbling in the topic for much of my life, I’ve only covered a tiny sample from that massive list.

I find inspiration in many places: books, nature, travel experiences, conversations with others, and as I’ve mentioned before, often times in my dreams and nightmares.

As a mother of two young children, I’d like to do what I can to help foster their creativity as well.  In addition to pondering and researching the topic of creative nature, I am also working to develop more hands-on habits and practices to promote this goal in my own life.

Where do you find inspiration, and what are some of the things that you do to foster your creative spirit?


  1. although not strictly a “creativity” book, I found the work “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to be a wonderful guide to creating a creative life. One that is spontaneous and meaningful, and directed.

    the mind and its various motions are too often not analysed and picked over. There is something to be said for introspection.


  2. I love posts like these. I try to regularly read different creativity books and think that Twyla’s is one of the best out there. Another one I like is Living Artfully: Create the Life You Imagine by Susan Magsamen. She provides little tips about how to incorporate creativity into every aspect of your day. It’s a great read for getting creatively re-inspired when you’ve been slipping away from that.


  3. Anyone spent much time with the books of mind-mapping guru Tony Buzan? I keep coming back to him year on year. The latest that gets my juices flowing is ‘Head First: 10 ways to tap into your natural genius’. Looks at a range of personal challenges, including creative/emotional intelligences (social, personal, spiritual etc) to bodily intell~ & traditional IQ. Thoroughly recommended!


  4. My favorite book about the nature of creativity is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. Her autobiography Floor Sample is also inspiring. What I like about Julia’s suggestions is that they can be integrated into your life on a daily basis.

    Jill Badonsky wrote a great creativity book “The Nine Modern Day Muses.” It’s a great book for seeing the many facets of creativity within yourself.

    If you want to read a book about creative process, you might try mine! Jack’s Notebook. It’s a novel that teaches creative problem solving.


  5. My kids are creative musically, so we do things like attend classical music concerts. Last weekend we went to a pipe organ concert, and last summer we went to Ravinia a few times to hang out on the lawn, eat good food and listen to beautiful music. Music isn’t my discipline, but I do appreciate it a lot.

    In addition to literary creativity, I’ve enjoyed sketching and water color painting in the past. I plan to take a class or two in that this year, as a promise I made to myself at the new year.

    I’m also very into digital photography, though lately I’ve had zero time to pursue that. But when the weather warms I’ll get out of the house again and play with the new lens I got for Christmas.

    As far as books, gosh, there are so, so many. I also love Julia Cameron – all of her books. I think she’s just tremendous. In addition, I read everything I can find on writing journals and keeping a record of your life, which I think is another essential related to my love of writing. The book I love best so far about journals was written by Louise de Salvo, and that one’s about healing yourself through keeping a journal, but it has good advice for anyone, really, regardless of background.

    I’m not really too crafty, though I know how to crochet, do some needlecrafts and I know the basics of knitting. I used to want to make a quilt for each of my children, as my grandmother did for me, but I don’t know how I’d ever make that kind of time. When my kids were little we did a lot of crafts, but the older they got the more we all grew out of it.

    But as far as advice for your daughters, I’d say just try to expose them to as wide a variety as possible. Take them places, show them art museums, gorgeous architecture (Chicago’s great for that), beautiful gardens, beautiful music, and mostly just let them see you, and how creative you are. You’re a terrific role model! They’ll pick up more than you think just by watching you and seeing what you value. They’ll gain an appreciation for all kinds of things through seeing how those things affect you. Guaranteed.


  6. Hi! I arrived via Creative Construction. My creativity is sparked by several things. Usually, seeing an art exhibit or installation (just saw Frida Kahlo at Phila Museum of Art Tuesday) or attending a thrilling concert (could be opera, could be Radiohead) will get my juices flowing. Watching an amazing movie (American Beauty or Metropolis) or reading a fascinating book (Huckleberry Finn or Case Histories) can unlock neural doors I didn’t even know were there.

    My children (2 and 4) go to plays, concerts, and museums with us, but I have to say that they derive most of their subject matter for their own art, music, and storytelling from…yes…DVDs they watch and books they read here at home.

    Have to add that travel has always been an inspiration for my writing, but the kids have curtailed those activities (the traveling AND the writing) for the time being.


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