Thursday, 7 March 2013

Book Review: Creative Thursday

I wanted to review this book as soon as I laid eyes on it. I didn't know exactly what it was about, but the cover, with its cute characters, hand drawn type, great use of space and unusual title, made me curious. 

At its very heart Creative Thursday is like a self-help guide for struggling artists, or those that think they aren't creative, but would like to be. I'm sure you are aware of the kinds of issues that can arise when you try and tap into your creative side: you doubt your talents, feel lost, lose all your inspiration, run out of ideas, and procrastinate in the form of endless tea making. These are the sorts of quibbles that Creative Thursday wants to help you iron out. 
Interestingly, if I had known that this book was going to be a bit touchy-feely, and offer me advice on tackling procrastination, self-belief, and making the best of myself, I may well have avoided it. Most of the advice is common sense and nothing that I don't already know, what is important though, is that it's advice that if I tell it to myself, or if anyone else tells me, I usually ignore it. However, it's advice that, somehow, if received through the medium of print, actually begins to sink in. 

When a book reminds you of something you should be doing, no judgement is being passed, and you feel no embarrassment when your serial procrastination problem is realised, instead you actually pause, and begin to consider what actions you could take in order to be kinder to yourself, or to be more successful. You can start to face up to challenges proactively in your own time, without the need to feel challenged or to react defensively. 
The style of writing in Creative Thursday is feminine, friendly, and informal - rather than being a straight-to-the-point practical guide - and begins with Marisa sharing some of her own story with us. After hearing about her personal struggles, as a reader, you feel less alienated, and the advice, suggestions, techniques and exercises that follow feel approachable, as they are clearly coming from someone that understands what it's like to have inner struggles with their creativity. 
We are taken through various chapters, beginning with 'Setting An Intention', which is followed my the big one "Moving Through (And Accepting) Resistance' (or procrastination to you and me). You continue through the book addressing ways to find inspiration when you hit a wall, taking steps needed to really commit to your work, and learning how to get to know yourself, listening to yourself and believing in where you are and what you are doing. 
The text is accompanied throughout by Marisa's own artwork, and although not all the images support the text directly, but appear to be more for decoration, they help draw you into another world, that makes the read engaging and enjoyable. 
There were many interesting points made that struck a chord with me, including:
"Start With Starting
...Beginning a project is sometimes the toughest hurdle to overcome... In general, as a society, we adopt the notion that accomplishment - specifically, completion of what we start - is the key to success and fulfillment."
I realised that this is very true for me, as I'm sometimes so busy worrying about the final outcome of a piece, that I don't always enjoy creating it, and as a result, don't produce my best work. 

Another interesting point was:
"Release the notion that creative time isn't valuable time"
I thought it was interesting to address why something that is considered fun, doesn't seem to be valued as much as something that is considered hard work and less enjoyable. When you think about it, it's a ridiculous notion that implies that we must force ourselves to endure some kind of hardship, in order to feel like we deserve success. 
Creative Thursday is about keeping those creative juices flowing, but aside from that it is also about well-being. It questions social assumptions and ways of thinking and living, that are counterintuitive to people achieving their personal best. Marisa places emphasis on little, but important things, like making time for yourself, time for stillness, and time for mindfulness within our busy lifestyles. 
The advice is written clearly, but may at times seem a little too simple or repetitive - when a point is being reinforced - and some readers may find it a little twee, but my suggestion would be to keep reading, as there is real, honest, and genuine wisdom in there, and any feeling of twee that I initially experienced was soon replaced by a massive, supportive, hug, that was just what I needed.

Creative Thursday
Marisa Anne

RRP: £16.99 Available from all good bookstores including Amazon (currently £10.87)
North Light Books

ISBN-10: 1440320993
ISBN-13: 978-1440320996

Please note that I was given a copy of this book, but was not paid to write this review.