At last week’s ATD 2017 conference, I had the pleasure of presenting a concurrent session on nurturing creativity. Over the last few months, I’ve been working to identify a short list of things I (we) can do to increase creative capacity – interesting stuff, and quite fun to research, I must say. I investigated stories of highly applauded creators and reviewed the research on creativity and came up with seven useful disciplines that make a great deal of sense.

You can find out more here, but in short, the seven disciplines are learning (mastery of craft), sensing (finding inspiration), framing, conversing, playing, incubating, and daring (persisting through adversity).

A few participants asked for book recommendations, so here’s a short list:

Books by and about applauded creators

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true innovation
Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace (Random House, 2014)
Important lessons for managing creative processes and teams, filled with great Pixar stories that reveal many secrets of their success. (For more, see my blog post.)

The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life
Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter (Simon & Shuster, 2003)
Choreographer Twyla Tharp lays out her own practices for a creative life, including some suggested activities.

Hamilton: The Revolution
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (Grand Central Publishing, 2016)
Provides intriguing background stories from the creative team responsible for the making of Hamilton. (For more, see my post on what I learned from listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear
Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books, 2015)
Describes creatives’ experience with the mystery and makes a case for embracing your creative energy and moving past fear and uncertainty.

Jim Henson: The biography
Brian Ray Jones (Ballentine Books, 2013)
Tale of the remarkable life and career of the creator of the muppets, with many background stories and insights into Jim Henson’s creativity.

Research and lessons of experience on creativity

Explaining Creativity: The science of human innovation
R. Keith Sawyer (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2012)
Terrific and extensive summation of academic research on creativity all in one place. Addresses process, characteristics, and applications.

Zig Zag: The surprising path to greater creativity
Keith Sawyer (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Argues that creativity is not a linear process and explains a range of “steps” for greater creativity; also suggests a variety of exercises and prompts.

The Accidental Creative: How to be brilliant on a moment’s notice
Todd Henry (Portfolio/Penguin, 2011)
Thought-provoking and practical read on how to be your best self as a creative professional.

Wired to Create: Unraveling the mysteries of the creative mind
Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire (Perigee, 2015)
Shares ten things highly creative people do differently, based on research.

Curious: The desire to know and why your future depends on it
Ian Leslie (Basic Books, 2014)
A wonderful ode to the power and necessity of curiosity and advice on how to nurture it.

Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the power to create, connect, and inspire
Bruce Nussbaum (HarperCollins Publishers, 2013)
In-depth discussion of competencies of creative intelligence: knowledge mining, framing, playing, making, and pivoting.


Creativity Boost: 48 practices for developing your creative capacity
Catherine Lombardozzi 🙂  (2017)
Based on my reading of the above books and more, I’ve written a short e-book on how to build your capacity for creativity – 48 practices designed especially for learning professionals. Find out more.

I’m happy to hear additional recommendations! There is still (and always) plenty of room on my creativity bookshelf.