6 Books for Creative Inspiration

September means fall which means it’s reading season. At least for me anyways. There’s nothing better than cozying up in bed while it’s raining outside (it’s hurricane season here on the East Coast) and having a good book in hand.

If you’re any kind of artist or like to be creative in any way, these six books can help you get out of any rut you may be in and inspire you to tap into your creative potential.

The Chairs are Where the People Go – Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti

This book is a delightful collection of random essays on what it means to be an artist living in the city. I had so much fun getting into the thoughts of Misha Glouberman and it inspired me to write out my thoughts on various topics that I muse about. Very candid and conversational.

Letters to a Young Artist – Anna Deveare Smith

Set up like in a way pen-pals would write to each other, Anna gives practical life advice for artists on topics ranging from finding a mentor to producing your own work. Each letter gives incredible insight and since Anna is an artist whose work I admire greatly, this book is a must read for any artist. It made me feel hopeful that I am setting out on a great path and excited to get the work done.

The War of Art – Stephen Pressfield

This book changed my life this past summer! I was dealing with so much doubt about whether or not I should even BE an artist, and after reading this book, I realized that it’s all about doing the work. The fears and doubts that run through your mind will always be a part of the work. Accept that these thoughts will always be there and then do the work anyways. It was so inspiring and affirming to learn that even the most successful people still have those doubts. This book should be required reading for ANYONE doing creative work.

Failing Up – Leslie Odom, Jr. 

This short but sweet book is perfect for reminding us that our failures lead us to our successes. It’s easy to look at someone’s career like Leslie Odom, Jr and think “oh that person has it all, I want to be just like them”, but what we don’t usually hear about are the failures that it took for them to get there. Leslie speaks in such a candid and inspiring way and reminds us that everybody’s journey looks different. Even for someone like Leslie, who landed a Broadway role while he was still in college, still went through the ups and downs that is a life in the theater.

The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

One of the most spiritual and inspiring books I’ve ever read. Julia Cameron speaks to my soul in a way I didn’t know was possible. She perfectly combines artistry with spirituality and compares creativity to being our ultimate source to God. You can read this book as part of a 12 week course, reading a chapter a week and combining her journal prompts with morning pages (writing for 30 minutes non stop first thing in the morning) to completely transform your artistic and spiritual life. I have yet to complete the full course, but it is a goal of mine to do so within the next year. I’ve started and stopped a few times and each time have felt more artistically inspired than the last.

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is also a must-read for all artists and non-artists. It teaches us that inspiration also comes from some other source, perhaps something God or Angel-like and different ideas can latch on to different people. If you don’t take action on that idea and carry it through, the idea will latch onto someone else until it is carried through. This book inspires me to keep following any impulse that I have, because it pushes you to keep doing the work until the idea can come to fruition, before someone else does it instead of you.

Have you read any of these books? Is there a certain book that you turn to when you want to feel inspired? Let me know in the comments!


Merm Ley





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