I am sure many of you out there seek for ways to tap into your creativity and seek inspiration from various sources. Music and reading are two of my main sources, I have previously written extensively on the music and poetry, that I use to tap into my well of creativity. Thus far, I have not delved into the books that I read on writing styles, creative input and how to manage the day to day challenge of sitting at ones desk, and hopefully write. Here are a few of the books that I keep going back to, again and again; they are well thumbed and travelled (with my journal and colour coded notebooks) and remain close to my desk, most are littered with tabs and post it notes.
A most intriguing read is Paul Zollo’s book of interviews with songwriters (62 to be exact) on how they create their magic, how they have succeed in creating timeless memoires for the listener: Songwriters On Songwriting – Many of my favourite musicians that I listen to (or whose lyrics I read – have most of Dylan and Springsteen’s lyrics in book form), are thumb indexed so I easily can dive back to reread their creative processes. I wrote a more in-depth article, on the section in the book, about Bob Dylan Learning from Creative People – Bob Dylan – who Van Morrison has called the worlds greatest Poet – cue Nobel literature signature tune here 🙂
A small gem of a book is written by Steven Pressfield – The War of Art – it runs us through the psychology of the creative process. See my post The War of Art for a more detailed review of the book.
Two of the earliest books I read on writing and creativity are written by, in my opinion, the legends/gods of writing; Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. King’s Danse Macabre is a well thumbed gem, written in the early 1980’s, I received my copy from my brother in 1988 as a Christmas present. It is a ranging wild trip through the history of horror, how it works and how he brings this process to bear in his own inimitable way through hi many novels. Bradury’s Zen in the Art of Writing – is a fascinating trip, 11 essays on the pleasures of writing, by one of the most entertaining writers (sci-fi, horror, screen plays, essays, poems and much more). His central premise throughout the book (and his life) is that writing must be a celebration, not a chore. I highly recommend this book for a unique perspective by a most amazing man, on his greatest passion – writing.
Lastly two books, I keep close at hand, which some would find unusual or different 🙂 one to aid me in pushing my creative boundaries, and the other for a unique perspective on words and their meaning (true or intended) when I am grasping for a different view of the creative road.
The one to push my creative boundaries, is an amazing thick, huge hard cover book by Guillermo Del Toro – Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions – in which he reveals the inspirations behind his signature artistic motifs, horror creations, writings and much more. It contains amazing photos of his creations, items from his collection and pages from his notebooks. It is a unique opportunity to see into his creative mind and process. I find that aspect of an artists creative process interesting; how do they get from A to B or Z?
The other well thumbed book is – The Devils Dictionary – by Ambrose Bierce, a satirical dictionary written by American journalist and author Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in 1906 as The Cynic’s Word Book. If you are looking for a unique spin on words, with a rich sense of irony then its a keeper. Here are a few timeless examples:
- Egotist: (n.) A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
- Faith: (n.) Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
- Lawyer: (n.) One skilled in circumvention of the law.
- Marriage: (n.) A household consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.
- Religion: (n.) A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
I trust dear gentle reader (and writer), that you have enjoyed this creative jaunt with me, finding it both entertaining and helpful. I would love your comments; with respect to what inspires you, what you read, listen to, or delve into? When you need to troll the depths of your creative well, to discover the hidden gems that lie below.
May we always lust and thirst to celebrate our creativity.
Michael D Emmerich