A Creativity Classic: The Woman’s Book of Creativity by C. Diane Ealy (Review)
Posted July 8, 2013on:
In May, I completed the 12 week ‘Mentored Workshop’ course as partial fulfillment toward a Certificate in Creative Writing from my local community college’s Creative Writing Program. The weekly three hour workshop covered a broad range of topics for advanced students including polishing, revising and submitting work for publication. Besides manuscript critique and craft readings, students were also expected to attend several author readings, read work at open mikes, volunteer to help with one of the Creative Writing Program’s events, and write three online book reviews. Our teacher created these additional requirements to strengthen our visibility as ‘literary citizens within a community of writers’. I’m already a pretty active and engaged literary citizen and have written about the importance of practicing being a writer in public, so I thought I was pretty much already on the right track.
The one thing, however, that I don’t do is write reviews. I know reviews serve an important role in the writing community. Good reviews take time and energy and like many, I find that reviews remain on my ‘gee, that would be nice to do’ list without any upward movement. Our teacher made this task easier by telling us that we could choose any three books (recently published or not) and to keep the reviews short. I chose The Woman’s Book of Creativity by C. Diane Ealy. Dr. Ealy is a pioneer on creativity and this is one of the first books that delve into the topic of women and creativity with clarity and wit. It’s a book that I often use in my coaching practice and refer to when I teach ‘Women and Creativity’ courses.
While completing my three reviews, I discovered that I enjoyed reviewing and that it didn’t take as long as I imagined. Now, I’ll aim to write a few reviews every quarter.
Ealy debunks many myths about creativity that have been handed down over the centuries (e.g. ‘creativity is about producing a tangible thing’ and only ‘a few people possess creativity’). She explores why so many women feel like they aren’t creative. Through reviewing the received wisdom of ‘creativity research’, she demonstrates that women’s experiences and expressions of creativity historically haven’t been included in ‘what counts as creative’. Prevailing definitions of what constitutes creativity or creative thinking have been male-defined (i.e. the solitary male genius).
Ealy argues that women tend to gravitate to holistic models of problem-solving. She walks a fine line between arguing that both holistic and linear thinking styles are human traits and not sex specific, and yet that women have inherent leanings toward holistic thinking. One thing is clear, when some women tend to problem-solve or express their creativity in holistic ways–it is often devalued. She urges women to embrace and value their unique style and shows how to overcome common issues that block women (i.e. fear of being called selfish, being outer directed, unhealthy responses to conflict, etc.). In my work with women across the life span, I have found that almost all struggle with the issues identified by Ealy. The book offers practical, easy and fun techniques for expanding what’s in one’s creative toolkit. Her expertise as a therapist, coach and seeker is evident; she skillfully weaves together empirical research, archetypal psychology, client case studies and her own insights.
Find out more about The Woman’s Book of Creativity on Amazon
Interested in more books about creativity? See some of my top picks here.