YOCR #8 – The War of Art and Imagine

I’ve done it. I’ve finally come back to my original Year of Creative Reading list. And with not one book, but two.

I read “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” by Steven Pressfield over the weekend. (Sometimes you’ve just gotta love short books that are a quick read.)

Pressfield breaks his book into three main sections. The first is on Resistance, all of the inner conflicts that keep artists from making art, writers from writing, and other creative types from creating in their chosen media. The second section, my favorite, is on how to overcome Resistance by being a Professional. The advice on how to be a Professional fortified my creative spine in the reading of it. The third section is on where our creative ideas come from. Pressfield gives the credit primarily to the Muses, some external, ethereal force that can’t really be explained.

I’ve read too much about the workings of the creative mind to jump in and agree with the idea of Muses. As it turns out, the creative book I picked up after Pressfield’s is “Imagine: How Creativity Works” by Jonah Lehrer. While I’m only a couple of chapters into Lehrer’s book, he is examining creativity from the standpoint of brain research. The dust jacket reads, “Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types,” Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single gift possessed by the lucky few.” Pressfield and others who have pointed to the Muses for their inspiration can be forgiven for their attribution. Lehrer discusses that proving how creativity arises through brain research is very tricky. Creative inspiration is incredibly fast, so it’s hard to catch on an MRI. But brain scientists, being creative sorts themselves, are figuring out how to do it.

“Imagine” is a fascinating book and I can’t wait to keep reading.