I’m often asked what my favorite resources are for Creatives, and I figured that the top of 2019 is a great time to share these fantastic books and podcasts with you all.
Whether last year was amazing for you or a tough ride, the new year always brings promise of a fresh start. These specific books and podcasts continually motivate and inspire me to stay the course and hunker down to move mountains in my personal life and career. My guess is that as we dive into 2019, they’ll do the same for you as well, so here we go!
These are the five books that I would gift every single creative person on this planet if I could. They all changed my life in various ways and became instrumental in my development as a person and as an artist.
There are so many reasons that I love the books on this list, but in order to let the books and authors speak for themselves, I’ve pulled some quotes directly from their pages.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes – but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work. Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don’t even bother trying to be creative in the first place.”
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is a book that I put off reading for a long time. It was “buzzy” and I had a lot of resistance to reading it for some reason. I almost felt like I didn’t want to be told that ‘there was magic out there in the world’ that I just had to somehow tap into it and everything would be perfect and easy and amazing. I was feeling the opposite at the time; that everything was challenging and an uphill battle and that somehow the magic of the universe was laughing at me. If you guessed that this is the exact time when a person should read this book then you’d be right. At least for me, it knocked that bitterness and defeatist attitude right out of me and helped me find a place of gratitude again.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
“Instead of trying to accomplish it all – and all at once – and flaring out, the Essentialist starts small and celebrates progress. Instead of going for the big, flashy wins that don’t really matter, the Essentialist pursues small and simple wins in areas that are essential.”
This book is EVERYTHING to me. I used to be a serial do-everything-I-can-possibly-do-all-at-one-time-to-prove-how-hard-I’m-working type of person. I was the person who was perpetually “busy” with so many things on my plate that I was making myself sick. Like, literally in the hospital emergency room sick. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is the book that changed everything. I learned that it’s all about getting rid of the things that don’t help you work towards your specific purpose or goal. Instead it’s about saying “no” to things that don’t serve you, being okay with that, and knowing there is power in focusing and “essentializing” all parts of your life.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”
Oh man, I don’t even know where to start with this book. To say that it helps you get through creative blocks and find freedom as an artist is an understatement. Like most Creatives I can self-sabotage. The War of Art takes no prisoners and makes you face your fear, doubts, and demons straight in the face.
The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
“…many of us live our lives as if we are running in an endless marathon, pushing ourselves far beyond healthy levels of exertion. We become flat liners mentally and emotionally by relentlessly spending energy without sufficient recovery… We, too, must learn to live our own lives as a series of sprints – fully engaging for periods of time, and then fully disengaging and seeking renewal before jumping back into the fray to face whatever challenges confront us.”
This book is the newest to my collection of must reads for Creatives and I SO WISH that I had known about it sooner. I heard actress Christina Ochoa (“A Million Little Things, Animal Kingdom”) talk about this on Sam Valentine’s 1 Broke Actress podcast and it floored me! I ordered it on Amazon immediately and also got it as an audiobook and devoured it. Based on studies and work done with high performance Olympic athletes among others, this book is essentially based on the idea that the phrase “it’s a marathon not a sprint” is incorrect and in many ways destructive. It dives deep into the premise that life, the pursuit of a goal or career etc… is actually a series of sprints requiring “a skillful management of focused energy and subsequent downtime”. The Power of Full Engagement is 100% a game changer!
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“Not everyone can see his dreams come true in the same way.”
In many ways I feel like The Alchemist is Big Magic‘s more poetic brother. It tells the story of Santiago who goes on a journey and learns to listen to his heart, take chances, seize opportunities, go for his dreams and fulfill his destiny even in the face of adversity. It’s a powerful book that masks its “self-help” nature in a beautifully weaved tale of adventure, and leaves you believing that the universe will absolutely conspire to help someone when they commit to their path.
I listen to a ridiculous number of podcasts, and there are some in particular that have really influenced me lately.
In fact, these first three podcasts that are targeted towards actors completely helped me shift my energy. I can say with 100% certainty that they guided me to a place of pinpoint focus, and I booked four gigs in the last quarter of 2018 (three network TV roles and a digital commercial spot) after a major booking drought.
Podcasts for Actors:
Audrey Helps Actors w/ Audrey Moore
This podcast changed everything for me in the matter of a couple of days, literally. That is in no way an exaggeration. I went from feeling like I should throw in the towel, to booking gigs back to back two days after binging this podcast. Now, I’m not saying this podcast sprinkled magic fairy dust on me, but it does hold up a looking glass and makes you decide if you are in this actor’s life for the long haul. Even though I already knew that no matter what, I’m an artist and an actor and a Creative and that’s just who I am for ever and ever and ever…, Audrey Helps Actors was the catalyst for me to get my head out of my ass, to stop making excuses, and to no longer sell out on myself. Audrey Moore is the real deal. (Sidebar: a big thank you to Deborah Lee Smith for introducing me to it. I’ll be forever grateful!)
That One Audition w/ Alyshia Ochse
If Audrey Helps Actors is the podcast to energize you and light a fire under your butt, That One Audition is the warm hug and glass of wine helping you celebrate right after making it through that fire! Alyshia Ochse is positive, kind, and gracious and I feel like I’m in an energy healing bath whenever I listen to her opening introductions. She has so much respect and genuine appreciation for the journey of being an artist and I just love how she lifts up and celebrates her guests.
1 Broke Actress w/ Sam Valentine
Not only is 1 Broke Actress‘ Sam Valentine a contributing writer to Ms. In The Biz, she is also a fantastic host, and this podcast has quickly become one of my favorites. In fact, I think this podcast rounds out these 3 choices extremely well. All of these ladies are at different places in their journeys as actors and creative people, and 1 Broke Actress speaks to a lot of actors who are just beginning on this crazy journey. With honesty and humility, Sam breaks the adventure of being an actor down into bite sized pieces and does a deep dive into the “how tos” of it all!
Podcasts for Filmmakers, Writers, and really anyone and everyone in the Entertainment Industry:
There are A LOT of fantastic entertainment industry focused podcasts including The Treatment, The Business, Off Camera with Sam Jones, and Scriptnotes, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share some podcasts that are either newer, or might not be as much in the forefront, but absolutely on their way to becoming huge!
Hosted by Sarah Fain and Liz Craft (Showrunners of the new show “The Fix”), Happier in Hollywood shares info vital to anyone interested in understanding what it’s like to work in the day to day of the Hollywood machine.
Endlessly inspiring, the Co-creator/Showrunner of “Billions” Brian Koppleman is all about exploring the creative journey. The lessons that pop up from this podcast are pure gold.
This is an awesome podcast for anyone who loves genre movies or who is interested in filmmaking in general. In Switchblade Sisters film critic April Wolfe does a deep dive with female filmmaker guests talking about their favorite horror, sci-fi, and action films. This structure is brilliant. Not only does the listener learn more about a specific movie, but they also get to know the creative processes of various filmmakers and if/how they were influenced by the particular film they are discussing!
Ok so this isn’t specifically entertainment industry focused, but I think it’s a great addition to any Creative’s podcast list. Actor/writer/filmmaker and Ms. In The Biz contributor Brea Grant and writer/filmmaker Mallory O’Meara talk all things books and anything book related. I’m adding this podcast to this list because it truly sparked a light in me to read again, like, more than one novel a year… which is all I’d gotten around to for the past decade or so. I’ve found that because I have a renewed passion for reading and am committed to reading at least one book a month in 2019, my world as a Creative has opened up even more!
Full disclaimer, I was a guest on this podcast but that’s not the only reason I am a fan of Hollywood Hustle. Hosts Daniel Tuttel and Michael Lutheran are passionate, hardworking, and eager to figure out what this whole “hustle” thing in Hollywood is all about. They come from a wonderful, genuine place of wanting to help other people while learning as much as they can to propel their careers forward as well.
This is a new podcast started by filmmaker Ryan Little. I dig this a lot because his episodes are short and sweet, yet full of great info with awesome guests. This podcast is like sitting down for a beer and catching up with good friends as they talk shop.
Well, there you go!
This should give you a great place to start as the year rolls along. I hope you enjoy diving down this rabbit hole of amazing books and podcasts, and that you get as much out of them as I have. Wishing you a phenomenal 2019!
Founder of Ms. In The Biz