Saturday, February 14, 2015

Make It Mighty Ugly by Kim Piper Werker

Are you in a creative rut? Kim Piper Werker’s book Make It Mighty Ugly might just give your creativity a boost.

The author calls her work “A Handbook for Vanquishing Creative Demons,” and it is full of suggestions, exercises, and advice to help you break through your creative blocks and fire up your imagination. The basic premise is that creative demons – self-doubt, perfectionism, fear of failure, and the like – keep us from trying new things, forging ahead, and being as productive as we can be. A slim book (only 205 pages), Make It Mighty Ugly can be skimmed, sampled or read straight through. You can faithfully do all the exercises or just read and think about them.

Although the author talks a lot about knitting, crocheting, and crafting, the principles of the book can apply to work and life generally. The spotlight is on the Mighty Ugly project. In this exercise, you pull together random stuff and create an ugly creature from it. Anything will do – old fabric, bottle caps and popsicle sticks, items from the recycle bin, broken jewelry. By purposefully planning to create something ugly, the hope is that you will tame some of those creative demons. “Making ugly things reminds me to pay attention to the process of making, rather than obsessing about the product,” Werker writes (p. 3).

Werker includes links to a lot of websites and online videos that help make her points. Her writing style is breezy and familiar. In the section Establish a Regular Practice, she notes, “Bear in mind that what works for one person is sure to drive another mad, so read up on famous people’s habits while remembering that whiskey and a pack of cigarettes at seven every morning may not actually be the best path to take.” (p. 133) She offers advice without being a cheerleader. She recognizes that everyone struggles, and that those struggles can’t be entirely eliminated.

I found Make It Mighty Ugly to be an easy and thought-provoking read. If you are in the mood for a self-help challenge or need to spark your creativity, I recommend it.

To make it mighty easy for you, the Galesburg Public Library is hosting a Make It Mighty Ugly workshop on February 25 at 6:30 pm. All you have to do is show up prepared to make something ugly from the materials we supply. You can see the Mighty Ugly creatures made by library staff at their own workshop in the curio cabinet in the library's lobby through the end of February. 

The library also has a book club kit containing 10 copies of the book available for checkout by private book clubs. Call 343-6118 or email for more information. If you'd like a copy of the book to read before February 25, stop by the Reference Desk.

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