The most recommended books on the creative process

Who picked these books? Meet our 63 experts.

63 authors created a book list connected to the creative process, and here are their favorite creative process books.
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Book cover of Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World

Dinty W. Moore Author Of The Mindful Writer

From my list on for inspiring beginning writers.

Who am I?

Dinty W. Moore is the author of the writing guides The Story Cure, Crafting the Personal Essay, and The Mindful Writer, among many other books. He has published essays and stories in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Southern Review, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere, and has taught master classes and workshops across the United States as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, and Mexico.

Dinty's book list on for inspiring beginning writers

Dinty W. Moore Why did Dinty love this book?

Gaiman is always wonderfully positive on the subjects of experimentation, failure, and persistence, and with advice such as “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” This inspiring book is made even better by the accompanying four-color artwork from his longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell.

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seize the day in the name of art. This creative call to arms from the mind of Neil Gaiman combines his extraordinary words with deft and striking illustrations by Chris Riddell.

'Like a bedtime story for the rest of your life, this is a book to live by. At its core, it's about freeing ideas, shedding fear of failure, and learning that "things can be different" ' INSTITUTE OF IMAGINATION

Be bold. Be rebellious. Choose art. It matters.

Neil Gaiman once said that 'the world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before'. This little book…


Book cover of Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life

Robert Quinn Author Of Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within

From my list on finding your purpose and success.

Who am I?

Robert Quinn is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan School of Business. His research and writing focus on purpose, leadership, culture, and change. He has published 18 books on these subjects. He is passionate about speaking and teaching and his recent talk to Google on finding your purpose was viewed by over 18 million people.

Robert's book list on finding your purpose and success

Robert Quinn Why did Robert love this book?

This is a classic and has been foundational to my thinking and work. Fritz explains that we all live on the path of least resistance. Our lives change when we learn to ask one question; “What result do I want to create?” We all think we ask this question, but we do not. We ask; “How do I get what I want?” The difference is critical in the impact it can have on our lives. This book is filled with practical insight and wisdom.

By Robert Fritz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Path of Least Resistance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A revolutionary program for creating anything, from a functional kitchen to a computer program, to a work of art, Robert Fritz demonstrates that any of us has the innate power to create. Discover the steps of creating; the importance of creating what you truly love, how to focus on the creative process to move from where you are to where you want to be, and much more.


Book cover of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Rachel Rose Author Of Creating Stillness: Mindful Art Practices and Stories for Navigating Anxiety, Stress, and Fear

From my list on helping you know through creativity.

Who am I?

I've been making messes with paint, string, and words, as well as in love, mothering, and in virtually every other way imaginable my whole life. Eventually, an expertise began to grow, and the confusion in my life began to make sense through my creations, while at the same time, the seemingly irrelevant words and textures I was making started to tell me something about my life. Eventually, my lived experience and training in the Expressive Arts Therapies have led me to the roles of teacher, educator, and contemplative artist. If we pay attention to what we express and how we express things, we can find our way through any mess we find ourselves in.

Rachel's book list on helping you know through creativity

Rachel Rose Why did Rachel love this book?

Of all the creative self-help books out there, Twyla Tharp’s perspective stands out as one fueled by awareness and curiosity rather than grit and force.

For me, this gentler, more curious cultivation of creativity has proved sustaining as opposed to the conventional wisdom that suggests life must be pushed away or overcome to create. As a choreographer and dancer, her wisdom on building a life of creative expression is broad and encompassing, focusing on how one interacts with the world rather than the products one creates.

The inspiration in this book is followed up with practices that have changed the way I approach seeing the world, focusing my thoughts, and allowing the creative process to transport me to surprising places.

By Twyla Tharp,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Creative Habit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes someone creative? How does someone face the empty page, the empty stage and making something where nothing existed before? Not just a dilemma for the artist, it is something everyone faces everyday. What will I cook that isn't boring? How can I make that memo persuasive? What sales pitch will increase the order, get me the job, lock in that bonus? These too, are creative acts, and they all share a common need: proper preparation. For Twyla Tharp, creativity is no mystery; it's the product of hard work and preparation, of knowing one's aims and one's subject, of…


Book cover of Essential Art Therapy Exercises: Effective Techniques to Manage Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD

C. Becker Author Of Saving Euphoria

From my list on that have a connection with trauma.

Who am I?

I have a B.S. degree in Medical Technology and connect my stories with science. The more I began researching problematic issues in our society for the subject matter of my trilogy, the more I began to empathize with the different kinds of suffering that people endure. I’ve incorporated traumas in all of my Euphoria trilogy stories, from illicit drugs, illnesses, loss, burns, skin regeneration, and human trafficking. Societal awareness is my passion; presenting issues to people who don’t realize these problems are as widespread as they actually are. 

C.'s book list on that have a connection with trauma

C. Becker Why did C. love this book?

I really like how Essential Art Therapy Exercises focuses on creativity through art, photography, and writing, helping people work through their traumas, anxieties, or concerns. The creative projects in this book are so entertaining that it’s easy to forget there is more to therapy than just sharing the artwork. I enjoyed doing some of the paintings and drawings, and also trying one of the collage projects.

By Leah Guzman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Essential Art Therapy Exercises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Creating art is a wonderful way to reconnect with yourself while cultivating new skills for navigating life. Author Leah Guzman, a board-certified art therapist and mixed media artist, has put together simple yet powerful art therapy exercises drawn from cognitive behavioral therapy methods. You’ll express your thoughts and emotions by creating art pieces using a variety of mediums, including drawing, painting, and sculpting.You don’t need to be an artist to create art, and no experience is necessary. If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or PTSD, Essential Art Therapy Exercises will inspire you to practice mindfulness and self-compassion using:Healing art therapy exercises—Making…


Book cover of Upstream: Selected Essays

Deirdre Heekin Author Of An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

From my list on wine, love, and landscape.

Who am I?

I am a winegrower, farmer, writer, photographer, and pop-upeuse. I fell in love with food and wine while living and working in Italy, then returned stateside to create an homage to the people and place that embraced us and taught us so much. That endeavor--the restaurant osteria pane e salute opened with my chef husband Caleb Barber—was where I curated the wine program and became passionate about wines farmed artfully. I began working as a winegrower in 2007, a personal landscape experiment that led me down the rabbit hole of growing and making wine from hybrid varieties focused on regenerative viticulture and low intervention winemaking.

Deirdre's book list on wine, love, and landscape

Deirdre Heekin Why did Deirdre love this book?

Mary Oliver, as a poet and an essayist, writes with a lyric sword. Upstream is a collection of essays that reflect her willingness to lose herself in the mysteries and intricacies of the natural world. In this work, Oliver contemplates the joy of her work, her passionate eye for observation, her ability and responsibility to write and think about the flora and fauna, the flowers, the grass, the water, the sky, and how they connect us to the natural world, to each other, and to ourselves.

The sheer power of her writing and command of language has always drawn me in, what pushes me as a person, a farmer, and a writer to give into the “stream” of our consciousness, to stop and observe, but to also keep moving forward with the power of words and my experience of the world around me.

By Mary Oliver,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Upstream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of O, The Oprah Magazine's Ten Best Books of the Year

The New York Times bestselling collection of essays from beloved poet, Mary Oliver.

"There's hardly a page in my copy of Upstream that isn't folded down or underlined and scribbled on, so charged is Oliver's language . . ." -Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"Uniting essays from Oliver's previous books and elsewhere, this gem of a collection offers a compelling synthesis of the poet's thoughts on the natural, spiritual and artistic worlds . . ." -The New York Times

"In the beginning I was so young and such…


Book cover of The Artist's Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self

Emma Darwin Author Of This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin: a writer’s journey through my family

From my list on failing to write a book.

Who am I?

Alongside writing, I’ve been running workshops, teaching and mentoring writers for nearly twenty years, helping people get unstuck and keep going. So I spend most of my working life thinking about creativity and writing—then suddenly I, too, couldn’t write the book I needed to write. Every book in this list is about not-writing for different reasons, in different circumstances, but between them they tell us so much about how we write, why we write, how we get writing to happen—and what’s happening when we can’t. These very different stories resonate with each other, and I hope some of them resonate with you.

Emma's book list on failing to write a book

Emma Darwin Why did Emma love this book?

There are lots of how-to-write books with a chapter or two on motivation, inspiration, perspiration, and how to get over writer’s block. But The Artist’s Way is all about what’s happening when the creative part of your life gets stuck, or never started in the first place. It goes to the sources of your human creative energy, and helps you to understand how to find them and feed them, and then how to unblock the channels which prevent that energy from actually flowing into your art, writing, or anything else. You can work your way through the book to establish a creative practice or, like me, return to it at different times, cherry-picking her ideas and processes to suit different kinds of stuckness. 

By Julia Cameron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Artist's Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I love it. A practical, spiritual, nurturing book.' - Russell Brand

Since its first publication, The Artist's Way has inspired the genius of Elizabeth Gilbert, Tim Ferriss, Reese Witherspoon and millions of readers to embark on a creative journey and find a deeper connection to process and purpose. Julia Cameron guides readers in uncovering problems and pressure points that may be restricting their creative flow and offers techniques to open up opportunities for self-growth and self-discovery.

A revolutionary programme for personal renewal, The Artist's Way will help get you back on track, rediscover your passions, and take the steps you…


Book cover of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

Mary Potter Kenyon Author Of Called to Be Creative: A Guide to Reigniting Your Creativity

From my list on to jumpstart your creativity.

Who am I?

I began exploring the topic of creativity after my mother’s death in 2010. Mom was an extremely creative woman. The mother of ten children, living in poverty, she was a self-taught artist who managed to beautify her simple home with her art, building a home business selling paintings, woodcarvings, wall hangings, and quilts she created. When I began speaking to groups of women about creativity, I was shocked to discover just how few of them saw themselves as creative. Thus began my odyssey into creativity research and therapeutic art, and the resulting book and workshops that inspire and encourage others to discover their creative self.

Mary's book list on to jumpstart your creativity

Mary Potter Kenyon Why did Mary love this book?

This book is perfect for anyone who likes to see research that supports what they believe. There’s science behind the study of creativity and Wired to Create does an excellent job explaining it. Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research, this book offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire study the latest findings of neuroscience and psychology, and the practices of well-known “creatives,” concluding that we are all, in some way, wired for creating, and everyday life presents endless opportunities to express that.

By Scott Barry Kaufman, Carolyn Gregoire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wired to Create as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity?

Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes— like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration –…


Book cover of Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making

Luke Italiano Author Of Hollow Heart

From my list on Christians struggling with depression.

Who am I?

As a pastor, I thought I had to be a put-together person. Sure, I was allowed to have problems, but I wasn’t really allowed to struggle. Then I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I thought I was alone. I thought I’d have to leave the ministry. I was wrong. I needed to find other people who struggled, though. Through other books, I was able to find them. These books have helped me in my journey so, so much, and if you struggle with depression, I hope it helps with your journey, too! 

Luke's book list on Christians struggling with depression

Luke Italiano Why did Luke love this book?

I bought this book, thinking it would be about Andrew Peterson’s creative process as he writes songs. Well, yeah, it’s about that. It’s also about his struggle with depression. He talks candidly about how he hid from others, wept, and thought he was worthless. And as I read his descriptions of his depression… I knew I was not alone. This is an intimate look at a singer and the darkness he battles. Thankfully, it’s not only brutal about depression, but also points to the light we have in Jesus. 

By Andrew Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adorning the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of The Wingfeather Saga and award-winning musician and storyteller, Andrew Peterson. 
Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, WORLD Magazine each named Adorning the Dark as one of their books of the year. 

Making something beautiful in a broken world can be harrowing work, and it can’t be done alone.
 
Over the last twenty years, Andrew Peterson has performed thousands of concerts, published four novels, released ten albums, taught college and seminary classes on writing, founded a nonprofit ministry for Christians in the arts, and executive-produced a film—all in a belief that God calls us to proclaim the…


Book cover of Beautiful Oops!

Bobbito Garcia Author Of Aim High, Little Giant, Aim High!

From my list on BIPOC Shorties for kids.

Who am I?

I’m a parent who along with my co-parent is raising a Black and Puerto Rican child in a world that is consumed with misunderstanding our communities of people. We seek books that speak volumes to our core, and that can expand our son’s horizons so that he understands himself as well as others.

Bobbito's book list on BIPOC Shorties for kids

Bobbito Garcia Why did Bobbito love this book?

My co-parent and I work very hard to instill joy in our child’s self-directed learning, but there are times when he is very hard on himself when he makes mistakes.

We’re not sure where his efforts towards perfectionism are rooted, but this book has opened his mind and heart to accept that an “oops” can indeed be beautiful, and that all wrong answers, or attempts at art that fall short of a vision, are simply opportunities to learn and grow from.

By Barney Saltzberg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Beautiful Oops! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We all make mistakes - grown-ups and children alike. But little kids sometimes have trouble dealing with their mistakes, whether it's a piece of artwork they've torn by accident, or juice they've spilled on their favorite drawing. In this book, every page begins with a 'mistake' that ultimately unravels, lifts out, or pulls up to become a surprising work of beauty. Kids see firsthand as they go through the book that any smudge, smear or stain can lead to something absolutely marvelous - with a little imagination. Inspiring and inventive, this interactive board book teaches a valuable lesson: 'When you…


Book cover of The Creative Cure: How Finding and Freeing Your Inner Artist Can Heal Your Life

Lisa Manyon Author Of Spiritual Sugar: The Divine Ingredients to Heal Yourself With Love

From my list on healing and spirituality.

Who am I?

I’m a seeker and fascinated by spirituality. Books were among some of my best friends growing up and I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember. I started my business Write On Creative in 2003 and have helped mission-driven business owners, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders craft their messages, create marketing messages with integrity, and develop strategies to get their work out into the world. I firmly believe that business is personal so it makes sense that my first book released via the Write On Creative Publishing imprint is my story of healing with love. I live in magical, Ashland, Oregon and love spending time in nature. 

Lisa's book list on healing and spirituality

Lisa Manyon Why did Lisa love this book?

This book is a powerful read for anyone ready to reclaim their creativity and heal their inner wounded child.

Jacob skillfully guides us through exercises that bring us home to ourselves. I include this as recommended reading in my book, and I love that Julia Cameron (another favorite author of The Artists Way fame) provides the foreword.

Full disclosure, this book brought me to healing tears. I’ve read it and listened to it many times and I had the pleasure of meeting Jacob at his Heal and Create Writer’s event along with SARK. 

Another one of his books that you won’t want to miss is Blessed Are the Weird.

By Jacob Nordby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Creative Cure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“I’m just not that creative” is a common refrain in today’s society. But according to author and creative coach Jacob Nordby, nothing could be further from the truth. Every human being is creative, and having a regular creative practice is a vital key to a happy and fulfilling life.

If we don't exercise our creativity regularly, our lives can feel dull, stagnant, and rote. Many people live this way and believe “this is just the way life is,” without realizing that developing a regular creative practice can be the cure to what ails them.

Nordby knows this all too well.…