You guys might remember seeing some of my earlier posts this year working towards my goals and, truth be told, while they document the best of intentions, I've kinda been slipping behind recently. I've felt a little lethargic, uninspired, and low-energy as we head towards summer, wanting to spend my time surrounded by home comforts rather than knuckling down to work and pushing towards my goals. So for this review, I wanted to touch base, and talk honestly about a book that has been helping wake up my creativity recently.

The book in question is the one pictured - It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be. I think in total this book took me around an hour to finish - not because it's weak or fluffy material, but actually the opposite - this is a no bullshit guide to making things stick - from the perspective of an advertising man. Paul Arden's work speaks for itself - he was creative director of Saatchi and Saatchi in their hey-day and came up with some of the most recognisable campaigns for big brands like BA and Toyota. Without wanting to sound like a Wiki bio for this guy - he knows his shit. And this book, from the outset, is small, digestible, factual and informative pieces of stellar advice and creative inspiration from Arden's desk.

His advice is very much delivered from the point of view of an advertising creative, delivering briefs and winning over clients, but because he's speaking specifically about what he knows inside out instead of making broad sweeping statements, his advice is sage, timeless and can be applied to most creative work. Every new idea or concept is earmarked with a section title, and the sections are separated broadly into different values that support the creative on a deadline. His work is all about delivery and practicality, and it was a welcome break from my own 'in my head' style of working. One chapter of his that resounded with me was: 'Do not seek praise, seek criticism'. It makes sense, saying it aloud - how can you ever hope to be better without seeking criticism for improvement? - and yet we've been conditioned from being children to seek praise in everything we do. This book was the brain food I needed, without being overwhelming. I'd recommend it to anyone who works creatively, for themselves or others, and is feeling a little stifled.

Since reading this, I've already started sketching out new ideas for the direction I want the blog to move in, as well as picking up creative writing again, just for me. I feel like I'm on the edge of some big changes in my work and how I work, and I think this book has helped solidify some of the choices I've made in my own mind. It's both exciting and terrifying but, as Arden himself says, 'If you can't solve a problem, it's because you're playing by the rules.'

What books help get you fired up and inspired? All suggestions welcome!

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