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How Books Fuel Creativity

How Books Fuel Creativity

June 11, 2018

Ideas may lead to success but if you don’t write them down, you won’t know what ideas are floating through your brain. And you start to miss out on your own mind. Books can change the content of your life. But before you start reading books, you may want to learn what kind of brain is in your body. As I wrote in The Content Marketing Institute, knowing whether you’re a right-brain or left-brain human will help you to improve your content marketing strategy.

But it’s not only about getting your content marketing strategy perfect. There’s something happening here (cue Buffalo Springfield). And everybody (not just marketers) should look at what’s going down. And whether you’re a right or left brain person, books can help to fuel creativity. Here’s my personal experience of how books have fueled my creativity:

1. Writing my book got me through a dark time 

Two years ago, in February 2016, I published my book: Humanize Your Brand: How to Create Content that Connects with Your Customers. 

From the outside, it looked like I had it going on: I had a book launch in February. A book signing at SXSW in Austin at the Convention Center. I spoke in Atlantic City, Vegas, and was suddenly getting asked to speak around the world.  My business was skyrocketing. But little did anyone know, I was heartbroken. Only a few close friends and family knew that my partner of eleven years and I parted just a few months before. I was single and alone for the first time in over a decade.

Even though I’m not “famous,” I was a new speaker, author, and on the path to “becoming known” in my industry.

I wrote my book during the coldest, loneliest winter that shook me to my core. I’d built a strong yoga and meditation practice over the years so I believed I was immune to depression.  But then I became just about every cliche of a heartbroken person: I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I remember misplacing the blade of my Ninja smoothie maker and calling the company. When the stranger on the other line picked up, I cried into the phone about how my daily smoothie habit was the only thing keeping me alive. I felt like I would die if I couldn’t get a new blade to make smoothies soon (Thankfully they sent me a free blade in the mail). Watching the strawberries, kale and almond milk become one with each other became the highlight of my day.

“I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”  – Anne Lamott

Moments of logic (the left-brain) kicked me out of my hazy, depressed mind (the emotional/right-brain). I meditated. Did yoga. Spent time in nature. Listened to music. And read books on spirituality and philosophy. Through reading, I learned that I’m naturally more of a right-brain person: I feel everything. The paradox is that I somehow used logic to determine that the only way out of my sadness was to be logical: I became one with words.

Note: I’m speaking from my personal experience and the simple cure of “read a book” is not the cure for severe depression. If you or someone you know may be living with mental illness, please, please talk to a licensed and qualified medical professional.

2. Books heal. 

Books helped me do the deep work.  I read books during a time when I wasn’t living – I was merely existing. The deeper I felt the pain through the logic of my mind (through reading books), the more I healed. I understood why I was hurting from a logical level so that I could feel safer sinking deeper into the sadness of my heart. I’m a misfit. And I am not designed to fit into the fabric of society. Books taught me that this was an acceptable way of existence.

hanging with some of my favorite friends

Krishnamurti has said, “It’s no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

As Bernhard Guenther mentions in this podcast episode on The Art of Humanity, “Depression and not being able to fit in is, ironically from an esoteric perspective, a healthy reaction to an intact spiritual immune society. It means there needs to be an adjustment within.”

We are not taught this technique in society. The most common way out of pain is through dissociation.

As Jeff Brown writes “dissociation masquerades as bliss and everyone comes crashing back to earth with a hard and heavy thud.”

I would have crashed back into the earth if it weren’t for books to soften my fall.

If I didn’t stumble on the right books at the right time, I wouldn’t know how to adjust within. I may have gone off the deep end into a euphoric state of a “spiritual teacher” with no human flaws. Thank goodness for people like Jeff who bring words to what so many of us feel (p.s. I interviewed Jeff in my podcast, The Art of Humanity. You can listen here). 

A lot of marketing and social media today is vapid platitudes. Fabrications. Lies. It takes a lot for me to trust a coach these days (but a couch? I’ll trust any couch as long as it comes with a good book!)

3. Books liberate

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

Another book that I stumbled on at the time was Osho’s Love, Freedom, and Aloneness. As someone who loves being alone but often gets judged for being alone too much, I found peace in my loneliness. Instead of trying to “fit in” and dissociate myself from my own pain by “going out and drinking,” I fought the urge to be seen as social.

The irony is that even though I had a book about “humanizing your brand,” I still sometimes feel like I have an image to maintain. I’m not immune to it – no one is immune to society’s programs of deception.

We’re conditioned by society to maintain a “polished brand.” But I’ve found that the real work is in the deprogramming of everything we’ve been taught to believe. Vulnerability and compassion speak so much louder than perfection.

The facade is falling away. No mantra, yoga pose, or mala bead will cure what’s happening here.
The real work happens deep within the body. When you find a way to allow the subtle energies to move through you, you can surrender the need for perfection – to allow imperfection to shine. 
I don’t have all of the answers but I do know what works for me. One of my mentors warns me that I cannot become “spiritualized” by reading books. I hear his voice as I intellectualize the process of being a human. Maybe he’s right. But maybe, just maybe, we need to use our left (logical) brains to tell our right (creative) brains that it’s ok to feel…so we can heal. And remember what’s real. 

And maybe books give us the truth and transparency that’s necessary to build us up – especially when we’re not “perfect.” It’s the integrity of our souls that guides us along the right path.

Not only have books saved my life, but books fuel my creativity. Sign up here to follow my writing process for my second book.