(Subtitle: The mostly honest completely irreverent guide to creativity)
Scott Berkun has delighted me in the past with books like The Year without Pants and The Ghost of My Father. Engaging and original, they touched me in such a way that, long after I put them down, their insights remain fresh in my mind.
Yet after reading the first couple of chapters of The Dance of the Possible, I thought Berkun had let me down. In this, his “guide to creativity,” he was telling me that creativity comes from inside me. That I should keep a journal. The messages seemed shopworn, not original.
Then he hit his stride. Or maybe I just opened myself to listen to him. At any rate, the rest of the book proved to be entertaining, practical, challenging, and authentic.
Authenticity was the secret ingredient in Berkun’s earlier books. He’d embark on a journey of discovery, often self-discovery, and invite me to walk alongside.
This time he’s already gone ahead. He’s done the research and he’s created things. (This is his seventh book.) In The Dance of the Possible he’s left me a set of detailed signposts – showing me how to find my creative path and what to expect along the way.
There’s plain-spoken guidance on topics like finding and nurturing ideas, developing discipline, and seeking feedback.
You can read this book in an hour or two. But don’t. Linger over it. Underline. Jot down notes. (Start that journal.) And, when you’re finished, keep the book handy so you can refer back to it.
Or read a chapter at a time. Most of the chapters are little essays, two or three pages long, about some aspect of the creative process. Each one can stand by itself while complementing the others.
Dancing, it turns out, is an apt metaphor for the creative process. I won’t spoil the book for you. I’ll just say that dancing requires intention, it’s something you can learn to be good at, and – above all – it’s fun.
Four stars out of five. Maybe four and a half.
An abridged version of this review was posted on Goodreads and amazon.com.