Creative Doing

Whether creative work is your full-time job or personal passion, this collection of exercises, mental models, and true stories from prominent artists will guide you through your blocks and find the unique creative process that works for you.

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Creative Doing

75 Practical Exercises to Unblock Your Creative Potential in Your Work, Hobby, or Next Career

by Herbert Lui

Have you ever felt frustrated, blocked, or unable to make progress on a creative pursuit? Or felt that your creative potential may not be realized in your work?

This book was written to honor and support the emerging artist and creative. Driven by a desire to uncover the mystery of the creative process, writer Herbert Lui spent a decade researching and in conversation with practicing artists and creatives of all kinds.

What emerged is this elegant collection of exercises, mental models, and true stories that help you develop your own creative process, from choosing material to sharing your work with the world. Creative Doing is often counterintuitive, prompting you to try one thing, and then its opposite, or pushing you to “sell out” as you experiment with creative purpose.

The techniques apply to writers, painters, designers, musicians, digital creatives, producers, consultants, or anyone who wishes to develop a consistent creative habit. You might be…

  • wanting to tap into your creativity to find new solutions in your full-time work
  • exploring a creative hobby outside of your day job
  • leaving or considering leaving a job to focus on new creative work.

The 75 practical techniques in this book support you as you learn to turn your vaguest impulses into true expression.

Rachel JepsenEditor
Bernice LiuIllustrator
About the Author
Herbert Lui
Wonder Shuttle
Herbert Lui is an editorial director and author. He has been writing since he was 15. His work has appeared at publications like Fast Company, Hypebeast, and Quartz, and he later joined Lifehacker as a staff writer. His company Wonder Shuttle has advised organizations such as the City of Toronto, Shopify, and Skillshare on their writing and publications. He writes the Best of Books newsletter, which shares three great books every month.

Featured Reviews

The myth of creative genius is that it’s innate and destined for some, and completely inaccessible to others. Creative Doing goes behind the curtains on the creative process, examining the lives and processes of creative practitioners, and providing a valuable guide to unblocking creativity through taking action, making lots of work, and uncovering your creative purpose.
Laura Huang (International bestselling author, “EDGE” and professor at Harvard Business School)
We’re all creative beings, but sometimes we need a bit of help. Herbert offers a brilliant toolkit of 75 prompts and ideas you can apply right away to do your best work. I’m a big believer in small steps that lead to massive results, but if you’re in a tough spot it can be hard to figure out exactly what those steps are. Creative Doing is the perfect guide when you feel blocked or when looking for inspiration to take things to the next level.
Rick Pastoor (Co-founder of Rise and author, “GRIP:The Art of Working Smart (And Getting to What Matters Most)”)
Choose your passion, then choose a time each day, and dedicate it to only pursuing this passion. For me it was painting, and I decided to do it every day, at lunchtime. I wish I had had this book to guide me when I got started, but luckily, you have Herbert Lui’s insight into the creative mind as a roadmap in starting your journey.
Michael “Big Mike” Saviello (Visual artist)
Having done nearly 10,000 drawings up to this point, there’s no secret to art except consistent, creative doing. It’s not easy, but once you embrace ‘Process’ over ‘Result’ you’ll find you have a lifetime of learning and discovery and creative freedom ahead of you. If you want to learn this method and philosophy, this book is a great place to start.
Shantell Martin (Visual artist)
Any one of Herbert Lui’s inspired yet down-to-earth prompts has the potential to get you unstuck and to reconnect to the energy that fuels meaningful productivity. But to have so many collected in one place makes them even more powerful: somewhere, here, is the remedy for almost any creative block you might encounter. I know I’ll be returning to Creative Doing again and again.
Oliver Burkeman (New York Times bestselling author, “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals”)
Herbert Lui is a gifted writer, an original observer, and a truly creative thinker. He always has something to say that’s smart, fresh—and generous.
Rob Walker (Journalist and author, “The Art of Noticing”)
★★★★★ Creative Doing is a slim, inspired volume that deserves space on the shelf of every person who seeks to work in a creative manner.
(Amazon reviewer)
★★★★★ A concise guide with some amazing prompts for getting out of a creative funk.
(Amazon reviewer)
★★★★★ Even if only one of the many suggestions or prompts helps you, it’s well worth the price.
(Amazon reviewer)

Table of Contents

Part I
Start the Creative Process
Part II
From Action Comes Progress
Never Run Out of Ideas
Decide What Quality Means
Communicate Your Work
Get Feedback
Part III
Creative Purpose

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