I believe that living a creative life is incredibly important to my general happiness and well-being.
For a long time, when I thought of a “creative life,” I immediately thought of “productive creativity”—being creative with the intent to produce. Physical “proof” of creativity is comforting and alluring in many ways. It is a physical manifestation of hard work and creativity, which feels extremely satisfying, and also makes it easily communicated to and validated by others. Through many conversations with my friend Lily, however, I realized the ways in which this product-centric attitude was limiting me from enjoying the more general notion of creative living. There are so many ways to live creatively, and there doesn’t have to be a product at the end for it to be joyful and worthwhile.
Sometimes, though, I get into ruts. I feel stuck, and uninspired. When I am feeling this way, a great way for me to open up blocks is to read books. Whether they are self-help books, inspirational books, memoirs, chapbooks, or fictional stories, reading helps me to gain new perspective and also start a dialogue between my own way of life or creative project and others’. Here are some of the books I have read this year that have truly helped me to open the creative floodgates when I was feeling stuck.
Succulent Wild Woman: Dancing With Your Wonder-Full Self by SARK
In this beautiful, handwritten, colorful self-help book, SARK encourages readers to live creatively by incorporating playfulness, joy, wildness, and succulence into our lives. She talks about the importance of self-healing, sexuality, outrageous adventures, making mistakes, and radical self acceptance. “Live a wild, vulnerable life,” she insists. “Let us see you, laughing loudly, walking flamboyantly, and wearing colors that don’t match.” She makes countless suggestions on how to be playful in life, including wandering, befriending strangers, sauntering in the sun, and eating chocolate. As she beautifully reminds us, “whatever takes us out of our routine and gives us a little interior spark, is wild.”
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
In this inspirational book, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses creative living, emphasizing that every person has the capability to experience inspiration and follow it. She talks about how to allow creative fear (and all fear) exist while not allowing it to limit your pursuits, and also how to foster a relationship with creativity that is more akin to a partnership than to a power dynamic. There is an incredible potential for playfulness and lightness in creation, she reminds us.
“I want to live the most vividly decorated temporary life that I can,” Gilbert writes. “I don’t just mean physically; I mean emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. I don’t want to be afraid of bright colors, or new sounds, or big love, or risky decisions, or strange experiences, or weird endeavors, or sudden changes, or even failure.”
milk and honey by rupi kaur
milk and honey is a heartbreakingly raw and stunning book of poetry that is rupi kaur’s “heart in your hands.” The book is divided into different sections; the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. The simplicity and conciseness of her poetry demonstrates power and how relatable honest, authentic expression can be.
Warrior Goddess Training: Become the Woman You Are Meant to Be by Heatherash Amara
“If you don’t love and honor yourself with every fiber of your being, if you struggle with owning your power and passion, if you could use more joyful play and simple presence in your life, then it is time for an inner revolution. It is time to claim your Warrior Goddess energy.”
This book of spiritual guidance discusses becoming attuned to your emotional self, freeing your current self from your past self, and channeling your energy into self-care and creativity. It is full of anecdotes, rituals, and exercises to ground, empower, and enliven your spirit.
My Life On the Road by Gloria Steinem
This book was written by one of the most influential feminists of the women’s liberation movement. With the dominant ‘road narrative’ centering on the male experience, the road is often deemed too dangerous for women. Steinem breaks down that myth, hoping to “open up the road” for women to experience the dynamic, alive, powerful nature of life on the road. This book is chock-full of incredibly personal and inspirational tales, as well as hard-earned wisdoms concerning travel, adventure, connection, political action, and change.
We all sometimes need reminders that we are naturally and inevitably creative, lovable, and special. These books, each in their own way, have been strong reminders for me to enjoy the silly, the spontaneous, and the playful ways of living. And, sometimes, they remind me to simply relax and breathe deeply, knowing that I am powerfully human and fully enough exactly as I am.