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Posted May 23, 2007
The latest from Eric Maisel is an amazing and wonderful book that any writer, musician, artist, or performer would benefit from reading. In CREATIVITY FOR LIFE, Maisel brings together concepts and ideas he¿s discussed in previous books, but here every part is synthesized and complete. It¿s a smorgasbord of examples and tactics. He breaks new ground in detailing the artist¿s personality in ways that that the non-psychologist reader will instantly understand, and the book is highly accessible to anyone from beginner to master. In the introduction he distinguishes between the ¿artful life,¿ which is the way many people wish to live the ¿art-filled life,¿ which includes the joy that art brings and an ¿art-committed life,¿ the process of actively choosing to be creative. It¿s this latter that¿s the focus of the book. ¿As soon as you decide to be creative in a particular domain and that you mean to live as a novelist, biochemist, actor, or sculptor, you introduce a set of profound challenges that you would not have confronted if you had `settled¿ for artful living and an art-filled life¿ (p. xii). In four major sections, Maisel thoroughly examines the challenges faced in seeking an art-committed life: The Challenge of the Artistic Personality, The Challenge of the Work, The Challenge of Relationships, and Strategies & Tactics. Each section is brilliantly detailed and will make sense to anyone at any stage of invention, innovation, or imagination. Because creative folks face major obstacles that non-artists do not, Maisel spends a great deal of time giving hints, ideas, and suggestions. Just a few include ways to silence negative self-talk, using visualization, focusing, and practicing one¿s craft while bringing to it skills such as regularity, honesty, self-direction, intensity, joy, discipline, and more. He tells us, ¿Creativity is the act of making one choice after another¿ (p. 120). Living an art-committed life is the same. As Maisel says late in the book, ¿Lifelong creativity isn¿t given to you. You must earn it and attend to it every day¿ You will have to dig deep to find the requisite honesty, courage, and resilience to live an artful, art-filled, art-committed life¿ You must really want it and really commit to it in order to have it¿ to crack through everyday resistance and create for a lifetime¿ (p. 319-320). I approach every new nonfiction book by Maisel with giddy excitement, wondering what fresh aspect of the creative process he¿ll unearth, dust off, and show around. Sometimes I feel like the man must personally know me and the challenges I face in writing ¿ but we have, of course, never met. Maisel is just an amazing creativity coach and counselor who knows the secrets and insecurities, triumphs and tribulations of those who seek the creative life. This book is the next best thing to personally experiencing Maisel¿s creativity coaching, and I highly recommend it.
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