Recharge Your Creativity This Spring With The Help Of These 11 Books

by Kerri Jarema

Don't look now but... it's already mid-April. Of course, when January rolled around we were all looking forward to starting fresh, staying motivated to create, staying inspired and reaching our goals. But with lots of real world... stuff... to contend with and lots to be done, it's likely that all of your gung ho spirit for creating has wavered, if not completely, then at least to the point where you are way behind where you wanted to be. But don't panic! Instead of giving up on your work altogether or waiting for "next year" to make the creative changes you need in your life, you can just vow to start right now. Spring, after all, is a time of renewal, making this the perfect season to refresh your life in whatever ways you need to.

And you don't have to do it alone. There are hundreds of thousands of books on creativity that have been written specifically to help you get back into the groove of making, no matter the time of year. But we've chosen eleven books by creative women that go beyond your typical self-help tomes, and they are sure to provide you with all of the inspiration you need to get back to your creative pursuits with more fervor than ever before.


'The Art Of Asking: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help' by Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches). And when she left her record label, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world's most successful music Kickstarter. In this book, which is part manifesto and part revelation, she explores the emotional, philosophical and practical aspects of asking, and how it leads to a more open, creative life.

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'Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar' by Cheryl Strayed

Life can be hard: but Cheryl Strayed can help you. Or, at least, that is the way her book Tiny Beautiful Things makes it seem. This collection of essays pulled from Strayed's once-anonymous advice column, Dear Sugar, answers questions on everything from romance to loss, creative struggles to family struggles. Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm (no, really, it is one seriously soothing read) for everything life throws our way. You will find yourself somewhere in these essays, in who you were, who you are and who you are hoping to become; both creatively and otherwise.

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'The Art Of Memoir' by Mary Karr

Mary Karr has taught memoir writing for for thirty years, winning graduate teaching prizes for her highly selective seminar at Syracuse, where she mentored future hit authors like Cheryl Strayed. In The Art of Memoir, she pulls together her professorial expertise with lessons from her own personal life to provide a unique window into the mechanics and art of writing memoir that is irreverent, insightful, and entertaining. Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, Karr breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past. Anybody with a rich inner life or complicated history, whether writer, reader or simply creator, will definitely relate and be inspired.

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

Elizabeth Gilbert digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic seeks to make the process of creativity a wonder and a joy in our every day lives.

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'Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination' by J.K. Rowling

In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Very Good Lives offers J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life, asking the profound and provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others? Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world-famous author addresses some of life’s most important issues with acuity and emotional force.

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'Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)' by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling's hilarious and endearing first memoir explores many different aspects of her life, from growing up Indian American to dating in Hollywood. But some of the greatest essays here are the ones that talk to her creative life, from her lifelong love of SNL to her first big break playing Ben Affleck (yes, Ben Affleck) in her Off-Broadway play, Matt & Ben. Anecdotes on trying to sell her first comedy pilot to the networks, to becoming a writer on The Office all speak to living creatively (and actually getting stuff done) with authenticity, perseverance and a lot of laughter.

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'Just Kids' by Patti Smith

In Just Kids, Patti Smith offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. Not only an honest and moving story of youth and friendship, this book goes in depth into being a young creative, showing Smith during her conventional youth to her desire to live outside the norm. If reading about her daily creative process, and learning what kind of artist she is, doesn't inspire you to get out there and create something, surely nothing will.

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'The Year Of Yes: How To Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun And Be Your Own Person' by Shonda Rhimes

Rhimes chronicles how saying yes for one year changed her life ― and how it can change yours, too. With three hit shows on television and three children at home, Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say no. And there was the side-benefit of saying no for an introvert like her: nothing new to fear. Then her sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say yes to the unexpected invitations that come your way. She reluctantly agreed ― and the result was nothing short of transformative. Here, Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life, including her creativity.

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'How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life' by Lilly Singh

Lilly Singh's book is the definitive guide to being a "bawse" — a person who exudes confidence and reaches their goals. The message is simple: success, happiness, and everything else in life that you want needs to be fought for, not wished for. Singh shares what she's learned about achieving success and happiness, how to pick yourself up, and not allow anything to stand in your way. Using stories from her own life to illustrate her message, she proves that the path to success is paved with equal parts hard work and hilarity. This fun, practical guide is perfect not only for fans of Singh's, but for anyone looking for a little kick up the butt to reach their goals.

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'Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays' by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith's collection of essays, is split into four sections: Reading, Being, Seeing, and Feeling. In them she discusses both personal and cultural material, with essays on topics including literature, movies, going to the Oscars, British comedy, family, feminism, Obama, and Katharine Hepburn. Smith also speaks directly to writers, offering practical lessons on the process and encouraging readers to ask themselves questions of identity, art, love, and creativity that so often goes neglected in our daily lives.

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'Yes Please' by Amy Poehler

In Yes Please, Poehler offers up personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. She also speaks a lot to her own creative life, from her early years in Improv to finding the role of a lifetime in Parks & Recreation. Throughout she speaks directly to young creative women, encouraging them through struggles and reminding them that their voices are crucial and worth hearing. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by, both in and beyond our creative lives.

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