Review: A classic in creative career design

Creating a Life Worth LivingCreating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the most valuable things I’ve ever read, Creating a Life Worth Living, provides practical exercises for building a creative life. One size does not fit all, and this book illuminates the different kinds of people who want to make art. Becoming a creative person is itself an act of creativity, and calls us to think beyond normal. It’s subtitled: A practical course in career design for artists, innovators, and others aspiring to a creative life.

Carol Lloyd does not rely on popular systems like the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator to reveal how you work. She has developed her own tools applicable to artists, through canny observation and thoughtful inquiry. As examples, each chapter profiles someone doing their thing.

My favourite section is a brief one highlighting the different ways artists approach their careers: the project nomad, the interdisciplinarian, the tightrope walker, the whirling dervish, the wood nymph. Although I’ve followed several patterns, the most natural one for a freelance writer is the monocled monk. Knowing this has helped me trust solitude while still valuing my social network and interactive aspects of my work.

I first read the book in 1998 when it was new. It was like having a coach or mentor who encouraged me not to follow their path but find my own. I wasn’t ready to follow through all the lessons. I’ve revisited the book several times over the years. Other books more specific to the craft of writing have guided me recently. However, Creating a Life Worth Living set the foundation, excavating my own values, desires, and ways of doing things. I have been more confident and better prepared to make choices when necessary.

I’ve become a connoisseur of self-help books. I have an entire shelf of them! This is the one I cherish most affectionately. I strongly recommend it for all creative people starting or changing careers, especially those who feel torn between what is expected and what seems meaningful for their lives.

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