Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kick-Ass Creativity: A Book Review

Book Review written by Graduate Student Meagan Bender

Mary Beth Maziarz’s book titled “Kick Ass Creativity-An Energy Makeover for Artists, Explorers, and Creative Professionals” can be summed up by the title of her book. According to the most recent edition of The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, “_kick ass_” is defined as: Having a strong effect on someone or something; forceful; powerful.

Maziarz’s work is inspirational and incorporates the basic belief that we as individuals are creative and have the potential to enhance our inner creativity. In the beginning of the book, Maziarz makes a direct correlation between energy and the creative process. I never considered before that energy could play such an integral part in our ability to create. Tapping into our physical, mental, and spiritual energy maximizes ones creative potential. In simpler terms, unless we are fulfilled physically, mentally and spiritually in our daily lives, we cannot reach our creative peak.

As an educator this concept really hit home. I often find myself wondering why my students creativity has diminished by the time they reach high school. It’s easy to conclude that as we age responsibilities and stress levels increase, therefore decreasing our creativity. However, Maziarz offers invaluable insight into combating this common issue. By working towards a specific goal or desire, regardless of how outrageous, we can increase our inner energy levels along with our creative flow. Maziarz, calls this the first step in an “energy makeover.”

As Maziarz expanded upon the concept of energy in relation to creativity, I found myself excitedly turning the page in anticipation. The more I read, the more I realized that my definition of creativity was definitely in need of modification. I started this book thinking creativity was this intangible concept of a new or novel idea, and by the end I realized that creativity is a hidden trait or potential within all of us. Maziarz’s book teaches you how to overcome creative roadblocks in your life, own your inner creativity and use it to your advantage. Her positive voice and excitement about creativity was apparent from start to finish in this book. One section in particular helped provide insight into a common problem that I face when trying to be creative. Chapter 12 titled “kinks” describes blocks and dry-spells that can get in the way of the creative process. Maziarz offered this:

Dry-spells and blocks often provide needed breaks from the journey- detours that take us to the exact information we need in order to move forward most effectively. If we embrace the notion of partnership with the universe, we can begin to see temporary lapses in creative flow as purposeful pauses meant to help us, not deter us. (p. 182)

Embracing our creative blocks and considering them part of the process, really changed my outlook on creativity as well as facilitating. Not only did Maziarz offer many valuable insights throughout her book, at the end of each chapter she offers an exercise to get the creative flow going. She refers to these exercises as a “Creative Soul Search- a series of questions to help you dissolve creative blocks and discover practical ways to free up more time and energy” (p.27). These exercises provide an excellent way to reflect on what you just read and put it to practice. I can definitely use these exercises during a facilitation to keep creative juices flowing.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, one area of critique I would offer is its ability to appeal to a broader audience. For example, a significant portion of this book is geared towards artists, sculptors, and musicians rather than creative professionals. Some readers may get to these sections and decide to put the book down, however, I strongly encourage you to keep going! Once you get through those parts you discover that Maziarz’s overall message is relatable to individuals from all walks of life.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to my fellow peers studying creativity or anyone looking to tap into their creative energy and lead a more innovative life. Not only did this book change the meaning of creativity for me, it also helped me learn how to focus my energy to enhance my creative abilities.

Meagan Bender is a 2007 graduate from Buffalo State College with a Bachelor of Science in English Education. Currently she teaches literacy to children and is pursuing a Master of Science in Creativity, also at Buffalo State College. In the near future she hopes to become certified in Gifted and Talented Education.


Mama2Monkeys said...

very well written!

Chris said...

Good review, I think I might read the book. I could use an energy makeover!

stephanied101 said...

This sounds like something Michael and I should read. He is very creative but doesn't always put it to good use. Thanks!!

dmneary said...

This is a great review and very informational. Being creative is such a wonderful thing. I really enjoyed reading it!

Kristin said...

I felt like I was reading a book review in the Buffalo Sunday News! Great book review--I'm definatly going to recommend it to my artist husband =)

Ursula said...

Sounds like just the book I need! Nicely reviewed! :)