On Becoming An Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity (2005) by Ellen J. Langer is an interesting exploration of the links between creativity and mindfulness.
Using her background as a painter and psychologist, Langer introduces readers to the concept of mindfulness and over the course of the book demonstrates how prominent mindless has become in western society. Among other things, Langer examines learning how to become more authentic, how mistakes are mindful tools, how evaluations, absolute rules, and social comparisons stifle creativity, and how talent is a myth.
Langer’s writing is concise and she explains her pertinent concepts in an easy to understand manner. This helps to create a convincing argument.
Sadly, the book’s title is misleading. While Langer discusses mindfulness in relation to creativity and art, most of her theories and examples pertain to the everyday world. Fortunately, this doesn’t ruin what is an engaging read and valid discussion for not only artists but also people of other occupations.
Unfortunately, Langer has a tendency to go overboard with her explanations of the experiments she executed in order to test her theories, which add little to the message she is promoting. That said, Langer’s message about the benefits of living a mindful life and her suggestions on how to implement them in art or life are solid and very relevant.
If you are a struggling artist, or even struggling with life, On Becoming An Artist presents some useful theories for becoming more attuned with your practice or with living a more enjoyable life.