Have you ever thought you might have something creative to offer the world, but fear, insecurity, and a perceived lack of resources kept you from showing up? Are you keeping the art you were born to make at an arm’s distance because you don’t really believe it’s worth picking up?
Good news: There’s a book—or five—for that.
These aren’t new, currently trending titles, but they are each—like you—timeless treasures in their own right.
May their pages spark something beautiful in and through you this month.
A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman
You may know Emily from her book, Simply Tuesday, her Hope*Writers membership site, or The Next Right Thing podcast, but before all of that came this gorgeous call to artistic courage. In A Million Little Ways, Emily helps us uncover the art we were born to make—whether poetry or pie, sculpture or sand castle, calligraphy or conversation—by seeing the artistic potential in words, gestures, attitudes, and relationships.
“You know creating is more than paint and clay and lyrics. You know there is an art alive within you and the work you do to uncover it is not a waste of time. You are an image bearer and that is not about you becoming famous or important or promoted but about you becoming more fully yourself for the glory of God. And when you are fully yourself, everyone benefits.”
If you need someone to drill sergeant you into actually doing something with your creativity before the clock strikes 2019, give the job to Elizabeth Gilbert. Stick with her here through some mystical insights into the nature of inspiration. Then brace yourself for a kick in the pants as she drills down into the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need to live our most creative lives.
“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.”
Finish is an accessible, practical framework for overcoming perfectionism so that your creative goals don’t die on the vine or gather dust in a drawer. If follow-through isn’t your jam, Jon will help you understand why. Oh, and if finishing books is hard for you, too, try this one on audio.
“The sneakiest obstacle to meeting your goals is not laziness, but perfectionism. We’re our own worst critics, and if it looks like we’re not going to do something right, we prefer not to do it at all. That’s why we’re most likely to quit on day two, ‘the day after perfect’—when our results almost always underperform our aspirations.”
Simply put: The best, most relatable book on writing and the creative process I’ve read in years. This is on my shelf next to Bird by Bird and On Writing because it can certainly keep that kind of company. If writing has ever been an exercise fraught with peril for you, Dani’s insights into the challenges of the creative life will at once comfort and compel you. If you happen to be an introvert, even better. You’ll learn so much about yourself within these pages.
“Act as if. Act as if you’re a writer. Sit down and begin. Act as if you might just create something beautiful, and by beautiful I mean something authentic and universal. Don’t wait for anybody to tell you it’s OK. Take that shimmer and show us our humanity. That’s your job.”
Sometimes believing there’s art in you starts by pulling up a chair to someone else’s story and seeing how they found theirs. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years chronicles Donald Miller’s rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story after avoiding his art, and his life, in a sleep-all-day slump that makes your Netflix binge look semi-productive. Ultimately, Miller’s story demanded he change, so he did. Through beautiful writing and hilarious stories, he challenges creatives to reconsider what we strive for in life.
“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you’re going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”