12 Books on Creativity Every Writer Should Have on Their Shelf

Being short on ideas is a struggle. Staring at a blank Google Doc, unsure if you could string two sentences together if your life depended on it, is a nightmare—and a collectively shared experience amongst all writers.

The only worthwhile weapon in the battle against writer’s block and artistic burnout is creativity. Like any other skill, it needs to be carefully cultivated, honed, and nurtured. One can’t simply expect to churn out masterpiece after masterpiece without taking the time to understand and strengthen their own creative process. 

That’s where these 12 books on creativity come in.

From exploring the concept itself to providing practical advice and exercises, these works are essential for any writer looking to keep their creative juices flowing and produce their best work yet.

“How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael Gelb

Leonardo da Vinci is considered one of the greatest geniuses of all time. In this book, Michael Gelb analyzes his notebooks, inventions, and works of art to uncover what he calls the Seven Da Vincian Principles. He theorizes that when applied to our own lives and creative processes, these principles can help us master the art of problem-solving, self-expression, and creative thinking.

“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield 

Written specifically for writers, “The War of Art” delves into the internal struggles we all face when creating. Pressfield examines and offers solutions to overcoming self-doubt, procrastination, and fear of failure—three common obstacles that can stand in the way of any writer’s creative process.

“Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon 

This book challenges the notion of originality and encourages readers to embrace their influences and use them as a foundation for their own creative work. Kleon emphasizes that nothing is completely original and that the key to creativity lies in knowing how to borrow, remix, and transform existing ideas into something new. It’s a must-read for anyone who has ever felt like they were lacking in unique ideas.

“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” explores creativity from a spiritual perspective in this book. She encourages readers to let go of their fears and trust in the magic of inspiration. Through personal anecdotes and practical advice, she shows us how we can all tap into our creative potential and live a more fulfilling life.

“The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron 

This book has been a staple amongst creatives for over 25 years. Julia Cameron’s 12-week program guides readers through exercises and prompts designed to unlock creativity and breakthrough creative blocks. It’s a holistic approach that combines spirituality, psychology, and practical tips for nurturing your inner artist.

“The Creative Act” by Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin, a renowned music producer, shares his insights and experiences on creativity and the creative process in this short but impactful book. His encouraging words about what it means to be an artist will reignite your passion for creating and help you stay true to your artistic vision.

“Creative Confidence” by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

This book was written by two brothers who are also founders of IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm. They argue that everyone has the potential to be creative and provide practical strategies for unlocking and harnessing our creative abilities.

“Make Your Art No Matter What” by Beth Pickens

This book is a must-read for any artist struggling with perfectionism, imposter syndrome, or self-sabotage. Beth Pickens emphasizes the importance of creativity and provides practical solutions for all the common obstacles (lack of time, money, support) that can hold us back from creating.

“Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky

How many great ideas have you had that never came to fruition? In this book, Scott Belsky provides a framework for turning your ideas into action. He explores the creative process, productivity, and collaboration, offering tips and strategies for bringing your ideas to life.

“The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp is an acclaimed choreographer, and in this book, she shares her insights and rituals for fostering creativity. Tharp emphasizes the importance of discipline in the creative process and provides practical exercises and guidance to help readers cultivate their own creative habits.

“Creativity, Inc.” by Ed Catmull

This book tells the story of Pixar Animation Studios and its founder, Ed Catmull. It’s a compelling blend of business advice and creative insights. Catmull shares his experiences and lessons learned from creating a successful and innovative company, making it a valuable read for any writer looking to create something truly remarkable.

“Wonderbook” by Jeff Vandermeer

Building entire worlds and characters from scratch is no easy feat. In this book, Jeff Vandermeer offers a wealth of advice and exercises to help writers develop their world-building skills. Full of insightful essays from great creators like George R. R. Martin and Lev Grossman, “Wonderbook” is both an instructional guide and a source of inspiration—especially for those in the fantasy and science fiction genres.

Need help getting those creative juices flowing?

You can’t pull ideas from an empty well. If you’ve spent most of your novel-writing journey alone in a dark office staring at a computer screen, it might be time to step outside and get some fresh eyes on your work.

Working alongside a dedicated book coach can help you stay accountable and give you the guidance and support you need to bring your creative vision to life. Book coaches often offer a mix of practical advice, motivation, and constructive feedback that can be invaluable for writers at any stage in their journey.

So, if you’re looking for a new perspective or just need some extra encouragement, click here to check out PDHines book coaching services. We’ll meet you right where you are in your novel writing process and help you take the next step in creating your best work yet. 

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Story Coach, Story Development

I’m Pam, Your Story Coach

I help busy professionals write and polish the book of their dreams. Let’s bring authenticity to your speculations, flow to your structure, and heart to your words.

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