Everyone has the potential to be creative. But let’s face it: actually, living up to that potential is way harder than you initially imagine! Unlocking your imagination, figuring out how to jumpstart the creative process, and eventually learning to channel that creativity into real works of art is very difficult.
Luckily, there are tons of informative books you can use to improve your imagination and learn the keys to unlocking your creativity like never before. Below, we break down nine of the latest book releases to help you boost your creativity and imagination. While some of these were released a few years ago, many have seen recent re-releases and reprintings due to their success.
Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind
First up is Wired to Create, which is written by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire. This affordable book dives deep into the science behind creativity. Many people believe that only some folks can be creative or that you have to have the right “personality” for the job.
Kaufman and Gregoire have their own nuanced opinions. In fact, they take a hard look at how creativity can be matched to science. Through groundbreaking studies and research, the book gives you an important glimpse into how neuroscience principles affect the creative process, as well as examines why certain people seem to be more imaginative than others.
“Good news: the book concludes with the truth that everyone is wired for creating and that everyone has the ability to learn how to harness their imagination for productivity,” says Fred Gerantabee, Chief Experience Officer of Readers.com. “That’s one of the reasons why it’s on this list. It can be easy to feel discouraged from attempting creative projects if you’ve never been rewarded for doing so before. Wired to Create says, ‘Yes, you can create. You just have to set your mind to it!’”
Release Your Creativity: Discover Your Inner Artist
Release Your Creativity by Rebecca Schweiger is another quality imagination-boosting book. Schweiger is the owner of the number one art school in New York City. With this credential, she offers step-by-step instructions you can follow to complete mixed-media and painting projects.
The goal? To get your creative juices flowing like never before. “Each chapter comes with a well-designed and eloquent introduction, which shares some of Schweiger’s own experiences regarding the creative process and her inner nature,” says John Jacob, CEO of Hoist. “That’s why it resonated with me, personally.”
It’s ultimately a tutorial and reflective book in one. Read it if you want to know more about yourself and how your creative energies can benefit you the next time you undertake a massive project. It’s a good book for those who are interested in painting, pottery, drawing, writing, or even composing music.
The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art
Then there’s The Artisan Soul, by Erwin Raphael McManus. McManus is the founder of the Mosaic Church of Los Angeles. In a nutshell, McManus believes that everyone needs to create to reach their full potential.
To that end, he’s crafted an inspirational book with dozens of different stories and insights from Scripture, art, and life experiences. “Note that this book does have a religious influence, so it may turn some people off for that reason alone,” says Phillip Akhzar, CEO of Arka. “It’s certainly not for everyone.”
But it’s ultimately an excellent walk-through book to understand your creative process and, more importantly, understand where the creative impulse comes from in many individuals, especially those who rely on faith. Melissa Rhodes, CEO of Psychics1on1 says, “If you have or want to cultivate a spiritual side, you may find The Artisan Soul to be a perfect read.”
One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both
Jennifer Fulwiler offers One Beautiful Dream, a very personal and oftentimes humorous book that breaks down her life and the difficult process through which she came to redefine her creativity and her life goals. “It’s an excellent book for those of you who believe you can’t have a family and creative life at the same time,” says Michael Ayjian, Co-Founder and Executive Producer at 7 Wonders Cinema, “such as working mothers or fathers who already have a lot on their plates!”
Fulwiler uses her life experiences as examples for you to draw upon. Since she is a former atheist and a self-described workaholic plus introvert, Fulwiler underwent quite a life change when she discovered faith and became a mother to six children. The book details how she learned to harness her creativity while undertaking the highly difficult task of motherhood.
In other words, it’s perfect for other would-be creative parents who need a book that speaks to them!
Superhuman by Design: Keys to Unlocking Your Creativity for Life-Changing Results
Superhuman by Design, by Donald Burlock, Jr., is a phenomenal book if you want to embrace your inner creative superhero. In a nutshell, this book breaks down how you can follow your core values and use those to amplify your imagination and create truly unique works of art.
But far beyond being a mere art tutorial book, Superhuman by Design has practical tips for unlocking your full potential in other areas of your life as well, such as organization, planning, designing, and more.
“It’s a good all-around book for understanding yourself better than ever before, plus learning how to unlock your full potential through understanding yourself rather than trying to change your deepest and most fundamental personality attributes,” Lina Miranda, VP Marketing at AdQuick. “Very few creative books strive to convince you that you are fine just as you are and don’t need to change major parts of yourself.”
Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create, and Lead in Unconventional Ways
Sarah Stein Greenberg’s Creative Acts for Curious People is an unconventional book for unconventional individuals! Greenberg is an executive director at Stanford, so she has a lot of experience in design and creativity.
She wrote this book to help individuals jump-start their creativity from scratch: perfect if you have never been creative before but want to explore this side of yourself for the first time. In this book, you’ll find plenty of different stories and exercises from various creatives and leaders at organizations like Google, Stanford, and IDEO.
Scattered throughout are also opportunities to practice hands-on activities, as well as very vivid, artistic illustrations. “At its core, Creative Acts for Curious People encourages you to explore and experiment with yourself, thereby unlocking your creative potential,” says Theresia Le Battistini, CEO and Founder at Fashion League.
The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance that Awaits New Ideas
The Human Element may not be your first idea of a book focused on creativity. After all, it is written by Loran Nordgren and David Schonthal, both of whom are professors at Northwestern University’s school of management.
However, this gives the authors a unique perspective on the topic of resistance: the internal drive to stay put and not undertake new challenges. Jayme Muller, Brand Manager at RTA Outdoor Living says, “Every one of us has to overcome resistance to not just develop our creativity but to complete projects.”
The Human Element is the perfect solution if you struggle with overcoming resistance every day. The book takes a deep dive into how inertia can affect your resistance and how your emotions can be powerful tools for overcoming this barrier. Specifically, the book gives you the tools you need to create change in your life, profession, and in the way you think about things.
The War of Art: Break Through Your Blocks & Win Your Inner Battles
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is another top choice if you want to overcome resistance in your life. Resistance, in this book’s perspective, is the inner critic that prevents you from acting or changing your life.
“Read this book, and you’ll understand resistance much better, plus become armed with new ways to overcome it,” says John Cheng, Co-Founder and CEO at Baotris. In learning these ways, you’ll be able to not only undertake creative challenges but also make important changes throughout your life, such as in your career, relationships, etc.
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, is a dense and thorough book on the creative process. While it is a spiritually focused book, it can be an important aid for anyone looking to develop inner creativity, especially if they have left this part of themselves by the wayside for years.
The book includes journaling exercises, writing practices, personal reflection tutorials and sessions, and much more. “By leveraging all of these techniques, you’ll learn how to express your creativity and understand yourself much more deeply than otherwise,” says Ubaldo Perez, CEO of Hush Anesthetics.
Whether you have some experience as an artist or are looking to tap into your creative side for the first time, any of the above nine books can help you achieve your goals. Our advice? Pick up one or two of the books that look most interesting to you, then read them thoroughly. Give your creative endeavors another try and see just how much easier it is to harness your imagination!