This extremely inspiring and useful post was written by Margaret Webster – a copywriter/writer in marketing and corporate communications and a trainer and coach in copywriting, writing and presentation skills. Margaret very kindly allowed us to include it here as a guest post – enjoy!
“Confessions of an Advertising Man” by David Ogilvy
(writing guide – the classic)
Let’s start with the Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy.
Allegedly, he’s the inspiration for Don Draper’s professional prowess in Mad Men. And he is still one of the most quoted experts in marketing.
The man really knew how to turn a phrase so his book is a great read as well as a great resource.
Mixed in with his stories of the clients and carryings-on of Madison Avenue’s heyday, you’ll find his advice on developing great ideas, writing headlines and crafting persuasive copy.
“4 Lessons in Creativity” by Julie Burstein (TED talk)
What is the source of creativity?
This is the question Julie Burstein has asked many artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers.
In their stories, she discovered that creativity can come from surprising places – from letting go as well as pushing forward, from limitations as well as talents, and from loss and setbacks as well as gains and triumphs.
“Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari (non-fiction)
Stories matter. Every writer worth their salt will tell you that. But have you ever wondered why they matter?
Harari argues that stories are the very thing that has enabled puny humans to out-perform every other creature and become the dominant species across the whole planet.
Stories enable humans to co-operate flexibly and in large numbers – something that no other animal can do. We can even co-operate flexibly in different places and across generations. And this is how we have taken over the world.
By the way, Harari claims that one story is so successful that every person alive today believes in it. If you want to know what it is, go straight to page 193.
“Arrival” was one of the best stories of the year for me. Yes, it is about aliens and the US military – but it’s the antithesis of a gung-ho action movie.
Instead, you get a smart, stylish film that celebrates communication, rejects violence and muses on time and memory.
Best of all, it stars the wonderful Amy Adams.
Scarfes Bar (cocktail bar)
If, after all that intellectual stimulation, you feel the need for a drink – head for Scarfes Bar.
You’ll feel wittier than Dorothy Parker, cleverer than Will Self and more glamourous than Holly Golightly herself when you sip a cocktail in its sumptuous surroundings.
House of Cards soundtracks (music for writing)
Writers fall into two categories – those who need silence to write and those who need music. I am in the latter group.
In 2016, my go-to writing music was the House of Cards soundtracks. It’s interesting enough to keep me focused on my writing – but not so dramatic that it distracts me from my work.
If you’d like to use my playlist when you’re writing or creating, just click on the link above.
Chris Anderson on Public Speaking (online course)
I bet you’ve watched a TED talk – almost everyone has. So chances are you’ve heard a speech that Chris Anderson, the Head of Ted, has helped prepare.
In his online course, he walks you through what it takes to create a speech that shares a powerful idea – the tactics that work and the mistakes to avoid.
The course is broken up into bite-size sections so it’s easy to do in your lunch breaks over a few weeks.
Accidental Creative (podcast)
We all aspire to be prolific, brilliant and healthy – but how exactly can we do that?
Todd Henry, the host of the Accidental Creative, is on a mission to show us. He interviews artists, authors and business leaders on his podcast so they can share the practical tools and techniques they use to thrive in work and life.
“Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley” by Charlotte Gordon (biography)
Most biographies of creative people are snoring-boring recitals of every fact that the author has dug up about their unfortunate subject.
Not this one. It’s a riveting read with a page-turning story of love, death, scandal, revolution and literary triumphs, and an eye-opening exploration of the work of these two incredible writers.
Not just for women – men who admire great artists and original thinkers will enjoy this book too.
Train the Trainer course at the Impact Factory (training course)
This creative, informative and confidence-building course kick-started my Autumn last year.
I highly recommend it for anyone who trains or coaches other people – or is considering doing so.
“The Storytelling Book: Finding The Golden Thread In Your Presentations” by Anthony Tasgal
(writing guide – potential classic)
You may have noticed a theme by now – so I really have to include this book. It was a big hit in 2016 and could well be a future classic.
Tasgal wrote it after sitting through thousands of spirit-sapping powerpoint presentations and agency pitches.
The root cause of death-by-powerpoint, he argues, is that business has physics envy and fallen in love with bad science. His solution is to move beyond data and become meaning-creators or story-tellers.
Tasgal’s love of words makes this book a joy to read. He adores words, plays with them, explores them, takes them apart, reveals their secret history and illuminates their meaning.
Cake Shop at the London Review of Books (café)
Let’s finish here – in possibly the most delightful place to while away an hour in the whole of London.
With delicious cakes, great coffee and shelves filled with intriguing books, you’ll find plenty to revive your spirits and boost your creativity. Enjoy!