Saturday, February 8, 2020

Unleashing the Artist Within: Breaking through Blocks and Restoring Creative Purpose

Unleashing the Artist Within is a fact and practice based examination of the anxiety which can be associated with the creative process and the 'block' which all artists fear (and all, or nearly all, experience). Due out 12th Feb 2020 from Dover on their Ixia Press imprint, it's 224 pages and will be available in paperback format.

Dr. Maisel is a psychotherapist and creative coach and has written extensively on creative process and related subjects. This book follows on previous work but I read it as a standalone and found it clear, well written, and layman accessible. He writes persuasively and comprehensively about the challenges inherent in the creative process: getting through the 'grind' of daily expression, healing trauma, getting through unproductive periods (and ameliorating them where possible), finishing projects, performance anxiety and more.

The chapters are each arranged around a central theme: the realities of process, recovering from dashed hopes, creating and relating, creating and protecting the creative space, meeting the marketplace, reducing internal drama, and several other subjects. There isn't a specific progression or narrative. Each of the chapters does a pretty good job of defining the inherent problems as they relate to the creative process and providing some tools and coping mechanisms for mastering (and troubleshooting) them. I found some ideas to try out myself to get me beyond my own procrastination in my writing and creative life.

The down sides for me were that there was a lot of what felt like diffuse cheerleading and positive thinking (a little on the 'woo woo' side of the philosophical divide). I also felt the lack of a cross referenced index or bibliography/links list for further reading.  This isn't a 'one size fits everyone' book, but there are a surprising number of good and practical takeaways here for creative artists.

Four stars, with the bonus that it costs a fraction of a face-to-face workshop or course.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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