- Nancy Soulliard
Three books creatives should read in 2022 (if they haven’t already!)
The Accidental Creative, The Tipping Point and The Practice spark new directions and ideas and provide inspirational encouragement for a thriving creative practice.
"The path forward is about curiosity, generosity and connection." — Seth Godin, The Practice
At the end of 2021, I noticed many of my friends were posting end-of-the-year lists of all of the books they’ve read. Some of them read close to 100 books! I’ve always loved reading but with a full-time career, commute, family, art side hustle and a horse addiction, my reading time is minimal these days. I know, with life’s ebbs and flows, I’ll pick it back up with more frequency one day—especially as my boys get older. So when I do get to read, I focus my energy on inspirational books. Books that feed my creative spark and get ideas flowing. Books that refocus me.
My three books for 2021 were: The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and The Practice by Seth Godin. Interestingly enough, I found these books to be more intertwined and related than I initially expected when I dove into them.
Consistency creates a thriving creative practice
Looking for inspiration to refill my creative energy when it feels like it’s running on empty, I found Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative. Henry describes some ideal processes for filling up that creative energy. Finding a creative rhythm by scheduling pockets of zeroed in focus are key to the process. He discussed the pitfalls of “continuous partial attention” and the division of focus that disrupts the flow of ideas. And I can see how easily this happens in today's world. Interestingly enough, in The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell described channel capacity as the amount of space in our brain for a certain amount of information. We have a natural limit of six to seven categories before we lose focus. (Ever wonder why our phone numbers are seven digits? That’s why.) And with that, I recognized the bridge between these 2 books and refocused to strengthen my creative processes.
Consistent, focused, scheduled creative practice leads to breakthroughs in ideas and work. I’m no longer an advocate for intense multi-tasking (although balancing many projects at once energizes me and keeps me thinking quickly). The minutiae of too much multi-tasking creates is a lot of noise and little actual accomplishment. I’m sure we’ve all had those days where it feels like we accomplished nothing in our busyness. There are times I get held up with the rigors of daily life and feel creatively drained. By chunking out time, turning off my email alerts and ignoring my phone, I’ve found more creative freedom to get the creative work done. I’m creating specific checkpoints this year to meet goals. So far, goal #1 was met before the end of January- redesigning my entire website! Seth Godin’s The Practice really drove home the need for consistency in doing the work and shipping it to share with others. The best way to create more in my minimal time is to schedule periods of focus on specific creative projects.
Connections help drive creativity and idea spread
Originally published in 2000, The Tipping Point has been around for awhile but it's the perfect time to pick it up if you haven’t read it yet. I was particularly looking to read about ways ideas take off and spread - similar to an epidemic. And, it couldn’t have been more apropos to our current pandemic. I was eager to strengthen my knowledge about spreading ideas that create change rather than viruses. Gladwell uses theories, statistics and well-woven stories to describe how seemingly small incidents can often spark large-scale societal change.
Broken up into 3 main ideas — The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor and The Power of Context — Gladwell carries the reader through ways ideas spread. The Law of the Few specifically resonated with points in my other books and describes the type of people that are the Connectors, the Mavens and the Salesmen. We all know someone that just seems to know and flow with a variety of many people. These are the Connectors we trust that tend to share and spread information. Paul Revere was one of these. We all know about his famous ride to warn of the British coming but I learned there was actually someone else that had a similar ride that night — William Dawes. Ever heard of him? Yeah, me neither. His ride wasn’t successful or memorable since he wasn’t as well connected to his community like Paul Revere. It’s the Connectors like Paul Revere who are trusted and well-known that spread information vs. the relatively unknown William Dawes. If we want to spread information and ideas, it's good to have a few Connectors in our camp. This is where a network is really important.
In the Accidental Creative, Henry sees the importance of relationships to creativity. In this time where we’re encouraged to stay separate, building and maintaining relationships is challenging. But we are more brilliant together when we have someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone who sees from a different perspective. Someone who can help drive us to reach our personal goals and stretch our thinking.
Henry recommends scheduling time for creative relationships. I’m thankful that throughout the time we worked remotely, I had a daily checkpoint with my team and maintained bi-weekly and monthly individual and team meetings to bring us together to think creatively and stay connected when we were asked to stay physically separate. These gave my team and I time to bounce ideas off of each other, strengthened trust in our creative conversations and even gave us a pulse of how we were each feeling that day.
Ship the work
Seth Godin broke The Practice down into perfectly digestible bits of inspiring information. The mini-chapters had so many nuggets of inspirational encouragement that I could find a boost in creative energy after the few moments I had to read. Sometimes creating is about the process. Sometimes it’s about the end result or those that are receiving the work. Godin encourages creating without fear. Shipping the work and getting it out there is a far better option than holding on for perfection.
If there’s anything I learned from all of these books is that you can’t move forward in your creative practice without sharing and consistently creating without fear of lack of perfection. We’re not automatons who are hard-wired for exactness and perfection. As a creative, sometimes I get bogged down in refinement rather than just getting the job done. It’s time I began to consistently take back creative time and make, create, share and ship the work. Finding my audience and those Connectors with whom we will spread and share new ideas and creative work is just as important to getting the work done. As Seth Godin says, "The path forward is about curiosity, generosity and connection." With that, he perfectly summed up some of my favorite ideas in these books.
I'd love to hear what other creatives are reading! Send me some ideas of books I shouldn't miss in 2022. Let's connect, hold ourselves accountable for consistency and create more!
Once you read the Accidental Creative, check out Todd Henry's Accidental Creative podcast. It's filled with nuggets of ways to spark creative flow and keep the ideas emerging: Accidental Creative podcast
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