Inspiring Creativity, Book Review: Brain Storm by Don Hahn

Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self by Don Hahn. 2011. pp 320.

As I sat down to write this review, I ruminated on the advice tendered by Don Hahn. I looked at the blank screen and wondered how to properly express the corporeality of the book as I knock about on my own journey to understand my creativity.

The main thrust of this book is about inspiring creativity in our daily life; the driving force behind recognizing where your creativity wants to be: cooking, painting, blogging, gardening, creating marketing reports, etc. Hahn takes us on a gentle, amusing and thought-provoking path towards a self-enlightenment, of sorts. A self-enlightenment of creativity and where it might reside within us.

To the initiated, it is obvious why Don Hahn is qualified to write a book about creativity. He produced some of the most successful animated films of all time and is considered to be one of the driving forces behind the rebirth of Disney Animation, (To the uninitiated: Beauty and the Beast. The Lion King. Hello!?!)

Hahn’s style is very affable and never very sententious. He writes from the heart and it is obvious that he fosters a true desire to help us become a more creative self. The book is replete with anecdotes from the span of Hahn’s life. When he paints the picture of his much younger self sneaking a colander to bed to fashion¬† impromptu constellations, you can sense the wonder and trepidation he must have felt. Disney enthusiasts will love the stories Hahn relates about his years in the Disney Animation Studios. We meet legends that mentored him, co-workers that dazzled him (and us) and people that fostered (sometimes unintentionally) his creativity in his youth.

For myself, Hahn’s work made me stop and think about how I like to be creative and what strategies might work best for me. I love writing and I seem to work best with a notepad when I gather my thoughts. I can take months to get a good article going as I devour resources and fine tune the project in my mind. I have great ideas in the car, so I carry a voice recorder with me. Hahn never wrote about those specific things, but he does offer admonition about how to find our own creative roots. Even if that is sitting on a beach in Hawaii while eating dark chocolates.

Brain Storm is a book that I recommend to anyone thinking about the creative process, especially if you believe that you don’t have a creative bone in your body. Hahn is a natural storyteller and the lessons he imparts flow so much better than an off-the-shelf self-help book. It is a great resource for when you want to take your first steps in finding your personal creativity or if you have lost your way creatively.

Don Hahn is the  award-winning producer of Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty (read my review here). He has also authored The Alchemy of Animation (read my review here) and he edited the two-volume Walt Stanchfield Lecture series, Drawn to Life: 20 Years of Disney Master Classes (read my review here).

I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

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