Creativity Book Search Update

by Barbara Martin

in Creativity

Here I am not moving any faster than the slowest part of myself. This is awfully slow, lately. Speaking as a Type A person. But as a recovering blocked creative, if I ask myself why so slow off the mark, I find many answers. The main one lately is lack of direction no, clarity no (what is that, anyway? Clarity! snork) decisiveness, maybe, desire yes, more so that. Distraction, loss of focus, diffusion of energy. So now it’s time to grab it back, square things up and ease forward. Welcome once again to this place where we work through ideas about the creative life and creativity and creative blocking and the creative process!

Beyond The Artist’s Way
Lately I’ve been studying up on step by step self coaching programs for creative people, looking at programs outlined in books beyond Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Regular readers know I have spent a lot of time on The Artist’s Way recently, over 30 posts related to that marvelous book. But let’s wrap it up with this post, shall we? And get ready to move on to something else. Possibly with a little help from you.

Wrap it Up with a Bow
The Artist’s Way program as outlined in the book seems to me a well designed program and it follows a clear sequence with a chapter by chapter outline that makes sense to me and works its way through a series of issues most creative people face at one time or another. (The rational mastermind side of my brain craves that structure, even though I tend to disregard it and hopscotch wherever my curiosity takes me once I get into a book.)

Alongside that strong organizing structure, Julia Cameron’s book offers two distinct tools (the infamous daily writing of Morning Pages and the elusive self indulgent and fun weekly Artist Date), and lots of exercises aimed at getting you to examine what you are doing and why you are doing it and exploring other ways to approach the thing. (The thing being whatever it is that you are doing or attempting to do.)

So on that level, meaning a self-taught or group experience type of class, I think it’s a great book and a big contribution to helping creative people listen better, notice better, and get on with creating. You could probably just read through it stopping willy-nilly and get a taste of some good insights.

Not sure if they would stick, though, unless you follow through with some action. Isn’t that always the truth?

The Artist’s Way is Not Enough
Despite its thoroughness, The Artist’s Way leaves some gaps for me, and I know there are many people who have tried reading it and found it “not the thing” for them. So it’s worth looking at “what else’ is out there. And I suspect we can pick and chose useful snippets from many different sources.

Picking and Choosing
With all that in mind, I’m moving along to the next book and then the next. I’ll approach these, too, with a sort of suck it up and use what you find useful, feel free to disregard the rest mindset.

Can you help me out?
In the meantime, I have yet to find another book as thorough and far-reaching and as well organized into a lesson by lesson course format offering insight in well-apportioned digestible pieces as The Artist’s Way. So if you have a favorite, and can in any way explain “why it works for YOU” by all means please let me know. I’d appreciate hearing your insights, and I suspect I’m not alone in that! You can give a shout out to your favorite in the comments or email me BarbaraMartin2 AT gmail DOT com or put a little bug in my ear — @Reptitude on Twitter.


leah May 25, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I can’t think of any books in the same format as the Artist’s Way that I’ve loved, but some creativity favorites are: “a big new free happy unusual life” by nina wise, “marry your muse” by jan phillips, “the 12 secrets of highly creative women” by gail mcmeekin, “trust the process” by shaun mcniff and many others that aren’t occuring to me at the moment. hope that helps!

Barbara Martin May 25, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Hi Leah! Thank you for your quick recommended list! Interesting to notice nothing really in that course format popped into your mind. The McMeekin book is sort of a sequential one… I have not read the Nina Wise book yet, will have a look for it.

Eileen May 26, 2009 at 11:30 am

Hmm, interesting question. Like Leah I can’t think of any books in a similar format to AW, but one slightly-related that jumped to mind is Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck. It’s not about the creative process per se, but how to tap in to your higher self (beyond ego) for guidance. Very powerful!

Matt Blair May 26, 2009 at 11:47 am

I haven’t read all of these cover-to-cover, so I can’t vouch for the 100% start-to-finish brilliance of them, but I have read enough of each to know they are worth a peek:

“On Becoming An Artist” Ellen J. Langer (no exercises, but great examples)
“Coaching the Artists Within” Eric Maisel
“Creating a Life Worth Living” Carol Lloyd (questions, exercises and interviews, mostly career-oriented)
“The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life” Twyla Tharp and Mark Reiter
“A Whole New Mind” Dan Pink (Not about creativity in the AW-sense…the first half is about the the shift to ‘the Conceptual Age’ and the second explores what Dan calls the ‘six senses’ it will be important to develop to thrive in this age: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning.)

I think there are a lot of good writing books that be interpreted or translated as general creativity books, but that sort of treats non-writers as second-class citizens. They deserve better!!

Good luck in your search,


Barbara Martin May 26, 2009 at 1:29 pm

@Eileen Thank you for the suggestion to look further than “creativity books” per se — Martha Beck is certainly a great resource! (so many books, so little time LOL)

@Matt Thank you for the broader suggestions — I am planning on doing the Maisel book next, as it happens, even though it doesn’t lend itself to a class/workshop/program all that well. The Twyla Tharp book as well, despite not really being the format I’m looking for, in part because it is NOT from a writer’s perspective and she an awesome work ethic going on besides an interesting creative mind…

Alternatives June 30, 2009 at 2:56 am

Having browsed your lovely blog and seen your nice words about The Artist’s Way, we thought you’d like to know that Julia Cameron is giving her first ever UK workshop in London this autumn.
Julia will be coaching people for two days – Saturday November 7 and Sunday November 8 2009 – on unblocking creativity, rediscovering your creative self and sharing your unique creative gifts with the world.
Details and bookings are at
Best wishes,
St James’s Church
197 Piccadilly
Tel: 020 7287 6711
Company Registration: 3978199

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