In my quest to constantly improve my writing, I’ve found some books for writers that aren’t necessarily meant for writers, but they inspire creativity. I recommend them for writers or anyone living the creative life. Check these books out and head to your local bookstore to make them part of your “Creativity Collection.”
- IMAGINE: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
Not writing specific, but if you read it as a writer, it’s full of great inspiration, ideas, and nails some of the “magic” happening in your writing by backing the creative process with explanation and studies. But not to worry, this book is anything but ponderous. Full of antidotes, stories, and specifics, the creative approaches highlighted can be implemented into your own writing process. Plus, the stories of Pixar, Bob Dylan, Yo-Yo Ma, 3M, Apple and Elizabethan England and Shakespeare are entertaining as well as meaningful for any creative mind.
- The Project 50: Fifty Ways to Transform Every “Task” into a Project that Matters! by Tom Peters
A book meant to bring excitement and creativity into a company workplace, from a writer’s perspective this book is full of terrific ideas to spark your book into a “WOW! Project.” Peters gives tips, techniques, and ideas for you to take “tasks” beyond static routine work into “cool, sexy, memorable WOW! Projects.” Doesn’t that sound like a terrific process for your writing and a great book for writers?
Need some soul-inspiration? Think it’s only a dream, only a coincidence, or only your imagination? This book is about connecting to the magic in our lives through the three areas that are anything but only. Reading the true stories of exceptional creative-thinkers like Albert Einstein and Leonardo DaVinci (and how they connected with and used these three only areas) is an inspiration for anyone, especially the artist or writer. Throughout the book, Moss gives exercises and games to help the reader tap into these wonderful only gifts and develop the innovative and “magical” skills for themselves.
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
For any artist or writer, the nay-saying, critical foe within—which Pressfield identifies specifically as resistance—stops us from pursuing our creative endeavors. This book is a guide with strategies to help the artist reach their highest level of creative discipline. A bestselling novelist, poet, and frequent lecturer on creativity, Pressfield gives solid and useable principles on how to successfully overcome blocks and work to your greatest creative potential.
- The Art of Acting by Stella Adler
We writers have much to learn from actors! Various chapters in this book called to the writer within me: Developing the Imagination, Building a Vocabulary of Actions, Character Elements, and Learning a Character’s Rhythm. Acting concepts do cross over to writing. Quite nicely, in fact.
- Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner
Okay, this is in the books for writers category, but it definitely has an outside-of-the-box creative approach. If you love working with tarot cards, this book is just plain fun. Also great for brainstorming and breaking out of the same old thinking patterns.
- The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
Not really a writing book, but a fun look at personality types. Helpful when trying to focus a character. And pinpointing your own personality type is eye-opening too. (Check out Lori Devoti’s article on Using the Enneagram to Develop Characters to get you started.)
- Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates
Delves into the psychological makeup of personality types and explains how different types approach life and challenges. This book is from the Myers-Briggs personality test but presents more detail. Chapters focus on personality types as children, leaders, and mates in a relationship. This book can open your eyes to motives in your characters that stem from their personalities.
- The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease
For adding gestures and movement that will ring true with a reader, and building a “vocabulary of gestures” for different characters, you can’t beat a body language book, and this is the best I’ve found.
Award-winning novelist Kathy Steffen teaches fiction writing and speaks at writing programs across the country. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, Between the Lines. Her books, FIRST THERE IS A RIVER, JASPER MOUNTAIN and THEATER OF ILLUSION are available online and at bookstores everywhere. Check out more at www.kathysteffen.com