Creative Recommendation: Brain Pickings


I started How Creatives Work two years ago with a simple mission. I wanted to investigate how creative people did what they did. What was their process? Their routines? Their struggles? Basically, what makes them tick? This continues to be my mission and although it is sometimes hard to put out posts as regularly as I would like, my passion for the subject is as alive as ever.

A major inspiration for this project was another, much better blog created by writer Maria Popova: It was probably the thing that first gave me the spark of the idea and that convinced me that such a thing would be possible.

I would recommend Brain Pickings to anybody who feels like they have reached a creative standstill. The donor-supported website is hugely motivational. Popova highlights books and interviews and letters and infographics and audio and video all relating to the theme of creativity and practical advice from figures of the past and present. She has a particular interest in picture books that tell stories about historical figures in ways that both children and adults can understand and appreciate.

As opposed to tackling the various themes of a figures whole life, Popova focuses on one aspect of a their life and work to highlight a theme that is universal whether that be Alan Watts on happiness and presence, Hunter S. Thompson on finding one’s purpose and meaning, various writers talking about their craft, or a recent post on Cheryl Strayed and ‘The Art of Motherfuckitude.’

There are other interesting features on the site that makes it as great a way to waste an afternoon as anything on the internet, albeit in a much more substantive way than most. There’s the ‘book pickings bookshelf‘ where Popova recommends interesting titles in the categories of design, science, history, psychology, and art. There’s her great weekly email newsletter with a roundup of posts from the past week. There’s her creative experiment ‘literary jukebox,’ where a quote from a book is paired thematically with a song. There’s beautiful ‘original art’ by illustrators which includes a visualization of a quote, which you can even buy as prints. Then finally there’s the SoundCloud page where you can listen to fascinating audio.

As Popova describes the mission of her website:

Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.

Popova accomplishes this in spades. Brain Pickings was hugely useful and motivational for me and I’m sure it will be for you too.

If you are interested in seeing more, check out the website, listen on Soundcloud, subscribe to the email newsletter, and follow Popova on Twitter. Also, check out these 7 things Popova has learned since she started her blog:


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