Recommended screenwriting/creativity book: “Imagine” by Jonah Lehrer

[Note: Despite the controversy regarding the fabricated Bob Dylan quotes, I still found this an intriguing read — especially the Pixar collaboration method.]

Jonah Lehrer’s compelling “Imagine: How Creativity Works” demystifies the “creative process” and will empower you to unleash your creativity regardless of your profession. For screenwriters, certainly, “writer’s block” will be a thing of the past. Particularly fascinating is Lehrer’s exploration of how Pixar repeatedly develops incredibly original, entertainting blockbuster films. Of course, another key to Pixar’s success is the employees study with story guru Robert McKee, but I’ll get into that in an upcoming post.

So, “Imagine” is not a screenwriting book per se, but as screenwriting or any creative endeavor in itself can be a struggle, anything that helps tip the scales is a welcome companion.

The essence of creativity, Lehrer notes, includes the ability to shut off the inner critic — something any screenwriting instructor will tell you. But, more importantly, it’s something anyone is capable of regardless of whether or not we think we are creative; we all can be “creative types.”

Particularly intriguing to me is Lehrer’s detailed look at Pixar’s history and story development process. In addition to its highly collaborative environment, Pixar’s process includes daily critiques of stories at every stage of development — one reason why it is essential for you the screenwriter to have someone else read your material. While you may be the best person to develop and write the story true to your heart, you are not the best judge of what you write. I speak from experience.

Regardless, “Imagine: How Creativity Works” not only is full of intriguing insights that will help you tap into your creative potential, it’s also an entertaining read that reveals Bob Dylan’s creative breakthrough, William Shakespeare’s rise to success, and illustrates why brainstorming is the antithesis of creativity.

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