When I was a young artist, I knew I was creative and because of that, I didn’t seek out books on creativity to further develop my abilities. Call it ego, call it a lack of awareness—I simply channeled ideas, manifested the ones that really spoke to me, and that was that.

However, as I’ve gotten older and progressed in my career as a working creative, I’ve learned that there is so much more to creativity than natural ability. As with singing, you can have talent but without the right technique, you will never sharpen your creativity to its fullest potential.

These days, I read about creativity as much as I can. What I’ve found is that 80% of the time, I learn what I already know. Seeing it expressed through another creative’s eyes, however, inspires me and reminds me of the idea or lesson. Then 20% of the time, I discover something completely new: a new exercise, a new way of looking at creativity, and it helps me take my creativity to a whole new level. But none of this can happen if you’re not actively seeking knowledge.

To help you grow in your creative journey, I’ve put together a list of the best books on creativity. I hope you find them as illuminating as I do. 

“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

This was the first book I ever read on creativity. Published in 2015, the central premise is all about creative living beyond fear—something that every creative struggles with on some level. Gilbert encourages us to make peace with our fears and see them not as enemies or obstacles to be overcome but as companions in the creative process. She introduces so many other fascinating ideas in this book as well, including that ideas are living, breathing, entities seeking human collaboration.

 “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” by Steven Pressfield

I listened to this book on Audible after a podcast guest recommended it and I loved it so much, I bought the paperback copy. This book is a creative kick in the pants. Pressfield pushes artists to win the battle against resistance and do what they’re called to do. What is resistance? It’s any obstacle that keeps you from creating: self-doubt, procrastination, and fear are some common ones. If you’re the type of person who only sits down to create under perfect conditions, this book is a must-read.

“The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron

This seminal book on creativity set the standard for exploring creativity as a concept. Published in 1992, it’s written as a 12-week course in creative recovery, helping artists heal from within to unlock their full creative potential. If you’re feeling stuck creatively, this book is a great resource to come back to again and again to get back in alignment.

(Note: I’m actually doing a free, 12-week online course where we do “The Artist’s Way” together! Link here.)

“Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All” by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Written by the Kelley brothers, both leaders at IDEO and the Stanford d.school, “Creative Confidence”  is a compelling exploration of how everyone possesses the capacity for creativity—a topic most books on creativity address. However, they do it in a way that makes creativity more accessible for corporate types as well.  Grounded in real-world examples and practical insights, they assert that creativity is not a rare gift but a mindset and skill that can be cultivated.

“Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant

Drawing on a wealth of research and real-life examples, Grant examines the traits and behaviors of original thinkers, demonstrating how they navigate risk, embrace failure, and overcome obstacles to bring their unique visions to life. The book also delves into various aspects of originality, from questioning traditional norms to recognizing the importance of procrastination and doubt in the creative process. Grant challenges the notion that originality is the sole domain of geniuses, highlighting that anyone can become an “original” by adopting certain strategies and mindsets.