Samantha K. Storey
Sep 17, 2018 · 3 min read
“person reading book sitting with cross legs” by Fabiola Peñalba on Unsplash

When I think of tools related to creativity, I always lean toward books. For most of us, books and storytelling are the first introduction to art and the fantastical, imaginary life outside our own experience.

In sixth grade, my friend Heidi won a storytelling contest for her aural rendition of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs; later that year I went to a workshop where a woman performed a dramatic retelling of “Little Red Hooding Ride”; my Mom and I kept standard read aloud hours well into middle school including a tortuous turn into Wuthering Heights. These are memories I carry even as the edges begin to blur; memories that shaped me as both a person and as a creative. They were all based on stories.

This is a list. It’s not exhaustive, nor will it guarantee any strikes of inspiration but as these books are on my bookshelf, in my “creative toolkit” or however it is your refer to the sources you go when you need that extra umph, I find them incomparable. When you’ve looked at your blinking cursor so long, you’ve considered a narrative about the blinking cursor. These are my dog-eared, highlighted, rough-looking, most recommended to me, most recommended to others and ultimate sources of inspiration, motivation, style and umph.

  1. Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
  2. William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
  3. Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
  4. Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
  5. Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
  6. Jocelyn K. Glei (ed), Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
  7. Jocelyn K. Glei (ed), Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks Build an Incredible Career
  8. Peter Biskind, Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock ‘N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood
  9. Jocleyn K. Glei (ed), Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done
  10. Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
  11. Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework
  12. Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
  13. Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
  14. Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work
  15. Jessica Hische, In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector
  16. Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
  17. Tom Kelley & David Kelley, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All
  18. Linda Venis, Inside the Room: Writing Television with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program
  19. William Rabkin, Writing the Pilot
  20. Luke Sullivan, Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads

What’s great about most of these books it that you don’t have to read them cover to cover to get to the creative meat. Some of them (Jocelyn K. Glei, Austin Kleon, etc.) are designed in a way to give brief but impactful nuggets of wisdom you can parse out into daily doses. If learning about Jessica Hische’s design process isn’t up your alley, wait until you see her work. Research and immersion are part of the creative process, don’t neglect your own development.

As a great aside, if you click on any of these links you’ll be directed to (and hopefully supporting) one of these independent bookstores: Parnassus Books (Nashville, TN); Strand Books (New York, NY); Malaprop’s (Asheville, NC); Book Soup (Los Angeles, CA). I’ve been to all of them, roamed aimlessly through their stacks and left better than I came in.

Rough Drafts

Creative, productivity and the search for a life that’s good.

Samantha K. Storey

Written by

freelance writer + creative director / bourbon whiskey enthusiast

Rough Drafts

Creative, productivity and the search for a life that’s good.

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