Book Review: ”Capture Your Creativity” PART 1

”Capture Your Creativity. A Guide to Boosting Productivity and Finding Creative Happiness”
by Shelby Abrahamsen

Part 1: Introduction

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"Capture Your Creativity" by Shelby Abrahamsen

I offered to do a review of “Capture Your Creativity” to support Shelby’s lovely and caring mission behind it: Helping others achieve greater creative happiness in their everyday life. I myself – and some of the people I am in contact with daily on Instagram, this blog, and Facebook – could occasionally use some tools and advice when we hit that dreaded creative or planning slump. And that is exactly what Shelby offers us in her first book.

This review consists of two parts: Part 1 gives a general introduction and review of the book, while Part 2 gives some deeper insights for those interested in this. Wishing you a good read!

When you find a book at just the right time in your life

I am a passionate believer in synchronicities. And me stumbling across Shelby’s book was certainly one of the best I have experienced recently. Because I also believe that we can’t change until we are ready – and that we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge – it’s important for me to keep an eye out for knowledge that might help me in my personal development. I follow in the direction I am drawn to and that’s how I found Shelby’s book about creativity and productivity. Two areas I am working on daily, in my own life.

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My desk: working on the blog

My personal journey has led me to the Bullet Journal, to Instagram, to Shelby’s feed, while I was staring my own projects, my business, my blog, my YouTube-channel, and also beginning my education in personal efficiency. So I was (and am!) working on my own efficiency, productivity, creativity – and trying to localize my barriers along with the fears that are holding me back, making it difficult for me to achieve my goals with my business, blogging, creativity, personal development, and time management.

Me finding this book has been like the perfect storm – in a good way, that is. When I read Shelby’s description of her book – I thought to myself “Yes, please”: “Do you feel unfulfilled and stagnant? Is finding time for your creative pursuits impossible? This guide will help you identify and break through your creative barriers so you can finally chase down that hobby, career, or lifestyle. This guide will help you figure out what’s holding you back and overcome those obstacles using in-depth exercises and actionable steps. Pro tip: The thing stopping you from creative greatness is you. Discover your true abilities now.”

I could completely relate to several paragraphs in the book.  This demonstrates one of my favorite things about Shelby’s book: I felt understood. I felt like I wasn’t alone struggling with creativity and productivity, and that I wasn’t wrong or weird for sometimes failing to follow through on my dreams and plans. It also confirmed my belief that I am the main obstacle to ME achieving MY goals. I felt like she and I had had many of the same difficulties – regarding (periodical lack of) creativity and productivity. And it was liberating and inspiring to read how she moved pass her personal barriers to live a happier, more fulfilling life, balancing creativity and productivity in a busy everyday life. She emphasizes several times during the book: If I can do it, you can do it!

“This is going to be good”

You know that – yes, I am a nerd. And proud of it! – exciting feeling when you get a new book, you have been looking forward to reading, and then glance through the table of contents thinking: “This is going to be good”. Well, that was my first reaction. And I wasn’t wrong. Because “Capture Your Creativity” includes the following:

  1. What does creativity mean
  2. My creative pit
  3. Obstacles
  4. Rediscover yourself
  5. Make a plan
  6. The happiness toolkit
  7. The scorn of the blocked creative
  8. Your next step.

Several of these topics I was already working on, so the descriptions, insights, exercises, tools, testimony, and advice Shelby offers along the way were very relevant to me and very welcomed.

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Notes and highlights

You’ll find exercises in chapter 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 and you will find additional tools in chapter 4 and 6.
They are well explained, concise, doable, and relevant to the process of becoming more productive and creative. While reading I wrote down all the exercises and tools in my “Make Notes” A4-notebook where I keep notes for books and research. Some exercises I did right away, some I am doing over time, and some I am saving for when I am ready to move to that next step. Like with everything else: it’s your journey, so make it your own. I would recommend doing some of the steps in the order Shelby presents them. Sometimes you just have to do A before you can move on to B; even though B seems like more fun.

A guide to your journey to creativity and happiness

Early on in the book Shelby makes clear that: “This book is merely a guide; you must make the journey” (chap. 1). We often crave the quick fix to our problems, but you should be very careful if someone actually offers you a quick fix – since there really is no such thing when it comes to more complex issues in your life. Shelby’s book is a guide. She offers exercises, tools, and advice, but the rest is up to you. I believe that the tools don’t work, if you don’t work! And since it is your life, your happiness, your fulfillment, your productivity, and your creativity it’s really no wonder that you have to do the work. But “Capture Your Creativity” is an excellent guide on where and how to begin your own journey.

We are very lucky. Because we can create our own meaning in life and our own happiness. And added bonus: One of the best ways to do this is through creativity. If you are thinking: “But I am not a creative person”. Don’t worry: Shelby uses a broad definition of creativity: “Anything you can pour devotion, time, and energy into that feeds that spark of sunshine counts as creative work” (chap.1). So we are basically all creative in our own way.

What makes you happy?

What fulfills you and makes your soul content? Lucky for us Shelby points us in a direction by suggesting: creativity through hobbies. These can create that desired, inner source of sunshine and they can give us a sense of meaning in our lives: “A sense of meaning can come from many sources, but the very best way to develop meaning in your life is to create” (chap. 1). Human kind has always had this desire for meaning and creation, and that’s probably why many of us already are creative in our own way. The problem is that many of us don’t honor this in our busy everyday lives. This results in a feeling of existential crisis and un-fulfillment.

Try to read this following passage and see if you can recognize yourself in any way:

“In our digital age, it’s easy to push away these feelings of existential sadness… Most of us fly from moment to moment without ever taking the time to appreciate the little things. Fragile details that could add delight get trampled in the hurry. We rush and rush, and when the existential crisis begins to creep in, we like to drown it out with TV or other mindless chatter. We stay busy to avoid the uncomfortable realization that this isn’t working.” (chap. 1).

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Shelby Abrahamsen

For me this is scary, beautiful, and spot on. You?

Maybe it’s just me; but I can definitely recognize myself in this description. Thankfully it’s less prevalent now, than three years ago (when I began my own journey). But it’s still a work in progress and any help – like this book – is welcomed.

To answer the questions – “What makes you happy? How do you create meaning in your life? How are you creative?” – for yourself: You can read the book, do the exercises, follow through, and to the daily work. Then you can help yourself get there – or at least closer. And wouldn’t that be nice?

If you wish to get some more insights from “Capture Your Creativity” head over to Part 2 of the book review.

You can also visit Shelby’s beautiful website to learn more about her. Here you can also get your own copy – or a free preview – of the book.

Thank you for visiting.

Kristine, @back2basics_kris.