The Good Creative [review]

I have to level with you. I’ve stopped reading as much about creativity as I used to. I had to unsubscribe from 99U and other sites where the advice (although probably well-meaning) was too focused on what I SHOULD be doing if I want to succeed. I’ve moved away from that, realizing the best thing I can do for myself is carving out some distraction-free time and see what becomes of it. Still, I did receive a book called The Good Creative from author and web designer Paul Jarvis recently and was pleasantly surprised by the tone in which it’s written.


Paul’s rat – the avid reader.

It begins with laying down his intentions for what you’re about to read. He’s very honest about who it’s written for and spends time discussing our societal stereotypes on what is considered creative (hint: we define it way too narrowly).

At the core of the book are 18 habits or traits that Paul has noticed in successful creatives (okay, there’s actually 19 since one’s a bonus). These are not shoulds or life hacks, but observations Paul has made through his own experiences. In fact, he goes as far to say that these are not intended to be creative commandments and encourages critical thought. This is refreshing. I’ve always found letting people decide for themselves to be a much more persuasive route than forcing ideas upon them.

I’m not going to spoil the read for you by giving you a full list, but some of my favorite takeaways include how sharing your creative process can engage your followers, that getting bogged down in what tools you use doesn’t improve your work and that constantly looking for ways you can help other people is the way to go. Paul is simply outlining the principles he thinks people may want to consider. The things you could try that if practiced consistently, could help you create more meaningful art.

There is a review from entrepreneur Derek Sivers that touts The Good Creative as a to the point, quick read that will inspire you. While that’s certainly true, I don’t see this as a quick fix. I see value in revisiting this book and applying it  to your work. It’s for that reason this book has earned a place on my bookshelf.