Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
I picked this one up at the recommendation* of Molly Wizenberg at Orangette. I've been doing my own "gotta write" dance lately and needed to have just a little push in the direction of "so what if it sucks, get it down!"
Anne Lamott delivered.
The book is about writing (it's basically the seminar she gives) but it could be applied to anyone with a creative yen they're scared to embrace. She starts off by saying that you should show up, every day, at the same time, and write a really shitty first draft. She goes all the way through the process (including the small-pox infected blanket that is the reality of trying to be a writer) and up to how to avoid libel.
In the middle she tells anecdotes about her own life, and how they've fueled her writing. She tells you to be brave, to throw open the doors of your life and let the moths fly out and then write down the smells and the sounds and the grit that's left behind.
It is inspiring. It makes me wonder why I'm sitting here writing all of this. You should just read it, like I did. And then you should (to borrow Molly W's analogy) step into the cave and write. (or paint. or sew. or whatever.)
From time to time (sorry, one more thing) she would remark that her students asked questions based in fear, and kept flashing to the scene with Robin Williams in Dead Again where Kenneth Branagh is "interrogating" him and Robin Williams offer's him a cigarette. Branagh says "no thanks, I'm trying to quit" and Robin Williams fires back with "Don't tell me you're trying to quit. People who're trying to quit are basically poulets** who cannot commit. Find out which one you are. Be that. That's it. If you're a non-smoker, you'll know."
Find out which one you are. Be that. Go. Do.
*In that post, she links to a TED talk with Elizabeth Gilbert that is worth your time.
**Not the word he uses. The word I use is French for "Chickens" - the word he uses starts with a "p" and can mean the same thing. It can also mean cat.