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Kick-Ass Creativity: An Energy Makeover for Artists, Explorers, and Creative Professionals Paperback – May 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Incorporating equal parts positivity, practicality and visualization, writer and workhorse songwriter Maziarz presents a guide to tapping and fostering creativity with broad appeal for button-down and artsy types alike. After exploring the concept of energy--how it works, how it affects us, and how we can use it to our advantage--Maziarz moves on to real-life applications, encouraging readers to examine their wants and desires as well as the self-imposed roadblocks that keep them from their goals. Peppered with quizzes that challenge readers to examine their motivations and struggles, Maziarz helps creative types attack their roadblocks from multiple angles. Yes, there is some chakra-clearing involved, but the patchouli-tinged instructions are balanced by practical advice on dealing with naysayers, staying focused and time management that will appeal to those who respond better to reason than emotion. Though her concepts aren't exactly new--self-knowledge gained through introspection leads to a more productive, rewarding life--Maziarz's encouraging tone and practical, common-sense approach should resonate even with skeptics.
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"Kick-Ass Creativity is a lively and personable guide to higher creativity. Spirited and spiritual, Mary Beth Maziarz is both muse and guide. This book will catalyze all levels and types of creativity. Candid and good-humored, it is a bright lantern on the creative trail." --Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing; 1st edition (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571746218
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571746214
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,033,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


For years, Mary Beth has been at the next table over from you at cafes. She's writing in notebooks, journals, on napkins, on her laptop, her hand, and anything else she could find when the need to write announced itself. Having spent her midwestern childhood avoiding not-so-subtle suggestions to "go outside and play!," she chose instead to curl up and read Nancy Drew books or to play the piano. As the eldest of six children, it was probably a good escape tactic.

From her first 'personal-growth' book (Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull at age 8, when she didn't understand a whit of it) to the most recent titles in her library (too many to list here), MB was always drawn to the psychology, self-help, or esoteric aisles of bookstores. It's probably the Scorpio in her.

Mary Beth began writing music from an early age, and performing professionally while in high school. (Well, she was paid. Not a lot, but it still counts.) Later she wrote occasional articles in college (Northwestern, CAS '93) and long letters from England when attending St. Edmund Hall at Oxford. (The internet existed then, but only for about twelve people who knew how to use it.)

In recent years, Mary Beth began finding a real niche in her writing -- creativity. Her blog on "Art, Passion, and Purpose" began drawing a devoted following, and Mary Beth formed a company called "Creative Weekends," where women could attend inspiring, artistic getaways and focus on their creative goals. She also began a Creative Coaching practice, where she helped emerging songwriters and other artists find and nurture their unique voices and shorten the 'on-ramp' between idea and completed project.

The idea for "KickAss Creativity" came to life while reading a (surprise!) personal growth book by Lynn Grabhorn called, "Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting," awhile back. As she read, it kept occurring to Mary Beth how much she'd like to interpret the energetic approaches and practical concepts in the book with a focus toward fellow musicians and artists. As she began working on an adaptation of Grabhorn's book, the manuscript began changing direction (as they do), and she realized that her personal and professional experiences had prepared her to write a different book altogether.

"KickAss Creativity -- An Energy Makeover for Artists, Explorers, and Creative Professionals" became the textbook of how Mary Beth herself works; as she wrote, she dissected her own habits, excuses, sparkles of discipline, and helpful tidbits that she's gathered over the years. The process of writing a book about creativity became an exercise worthy of a Charlie Kaufman screenplay . . . How do you write about creative blocks when you're creatively blocked? How do you coach others out of a procrastination jag while you're in the middle of one yourself? How do you possibly find time in our overcrammed schedules to make sense of a thousand ideas that are all, somehow, related. You do. She did. It worked out and somehow, with two-year-old Daisy and (hungry) husband Mark in the background and a series of marathon 'work nights' in her favorite Utah cafes, Mary Beth put all the words into some kind of order. And now it's out there in the world, for the 'presentation and response' part of the creative process. Hmmm.

Along with writing, Mary Beth is also a sought-after presenter on creativity, frequently speaking to groups and facilitating creative workshops for all levels of artists, explorers, and (you got it), creative professionals looking for more fun, fulfillment, and freedom in their work and play.

"KickAss Creativity" is Mary Beth's first book. She really hopes you'll like it.


Mary Beth Maziarz has had her original songs featured in over 50 television shows and films. She's appeared as herself in teen dramas, had a song on the second "Dawson's Creek" soundtrack, and if you were 14 in 1999 and glued to the WB, you may have totally known who she was.

Mary Beth started writing songs as a kid in Illinois -- jamming out her compositions on the funky upright piano in her family's basement. When Mom and Dad decided she'd made the cut, a grand piano came onto the scene upstairs, and she started playing when 'company' came over. Piano cover gigs soon started competing with her steady seventh-grade babysitting nights (and winning), so she ditched the neighbor kid gig and began taking the song thing more seriously.

She first performed her original music as a freshman in high school, playing her song "Friends - Through the Years" for other girls while playing hookey from tennis. The seniors really liked it - they cried! -- and badgered her to play it for the school talent show. Mary Beth played it for the talent show and the crowd was on their feet. She was hooked.

In college at Northwestern University in Evanston IL, MB played in local cafes and composed scores for student plays. The college scene was glutted with emerging songwriters, but Mary Beth carved out a devoted fan base while playing a weekly residency at Tommy Nevins' Pub. Singing at the pub, also a home to Mary Beth's dubious waitress skills, allowed her to experiment with new material and develop a better rapport with audiences. (Patrons' drunkenness helped with her nervousness.) A year at Oxford in England also brought more pub-playing opportunities; then, as now, British Sterling was hammering the dollar, so the little sing-for-her-supper gigs and attentive audiences really nourished the young performer.

After school, as her compatriots largely went off to find fame & fortune as actors in Hollywood or as number-crunchers at Arthur Anderson, MB announced she was moving Out West. . . to Utah, specifically - part-time home to movie stars, record moguls, and other fabulously connected people. She began a longterm gig playing piano and singing at the Riverhorse Café, a beautiful, upscale lemon-in-the-water restaurant on Main Street. The Riverhorse gave her music a high-profile place to grow in Park City and a place to begin distributing her first two albums ("Something Real" & "Snowed In") as her performances there began to draw serious support from locals and glitterati visitors alike. Her lush piano skills and gorgeous alto, along with midwestern warmth and sense of humor onstage, began attracting more and more attention. She was Diana Krall, Aimee Mann, and Bonnie Raitt, in the body of a 5'10" blonde with a sweet smile and an earthy sense of humor. Invitations to play high-profile gigs began filling her in-box.

In 1999, Mary Beth's music caught the ears of producers of the popular tv show, "Dawson's Creek." They contacted her about featuring one of her songs, "Hold On," in the final scene of the Season Three Premiere. Everything changed. More of her songs were featured in the show. Other folks came a callin'. Fans wrote to her, clamoring for all the DC songs on one album. She listened, printing 300 CDs of the songs and demos that appeared on Dawson's Creek, calling the project "A More Perfect World." They sold out in nine days. She made more.

From there, she put out the shimmering "Goodnight, Goodnight" and continued to find her music in demand for tv shows (Party of Five, Everwood, Joan of Arcadia) and films (Broken Hearts Club, The Real Thing). Mary Beth also found herself performing at outdoor festivals, bigger club gigs, and upscale "house concerts"-- private concerts in ballrooms, outdoor stages, and music rooms around the country (including those of Robert Redford and bigwigs who worked for Donald Trump). In November of 2004, her music jumped the pond when her song "True Believer" became the theme for "Bianca - Wege Zum Gluck," a show that aired daily in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. She brushed up on her German. There was much brushing to do.

After a nourishing rest in the album production process, MB was ready to get back into the studio. Along came producer Craig Poole. Poole's rock-solid rhythmic sensibility and love of sweet old-school funk/R&B brought a new energy and groove to the tracks. He also introduced the magic of vintage keyboards, bringing in Rhodes, Wurlitzers, and other beaucoup beautiful sounds to the mix. "Wish" was born. Several tracks from Wish were immediately licensed for the ABC Family program, Beautiful People, and Mary Beth signed with the Film/TV music agency, Riptide (Los Angeles). Her song "This Is Our Life" from Wish has been used in hundreds of videos on YouTube and at many weddings and other significant family events. It's cool having a song be a part of other people's deeply sentimental moments.

Most recently, Mary Beth has entered the world of writing and playing music for children. When her daughter Daisy was born in 2007, MB decided it would be fun to record some upbeat, playful songs for kids. Producers of an animated series called Crab Cove contacted her about creating an album to go along with its eco-friendly episodes about sweet sea creatures, and the timing and message was perfect. "My Beach Town - Songs from Crab Cove" came to life and will hit the shelves as soon as the series begins airing next year.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By JCR on May 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The fact that I'm writing this review, or even attempting to write this review, is a testament to the power of Mary Beth Maziarz's book, "Kick-Ass Creativity: An Energy Makeover for Artists, Explorers, and Creative Professionals." As the title suggests, the book is about more than creativity - it's about charging your personal energy and connecting to an external, higher source of inspiration that will make your work happen. It's about using the spiritual laws of the universe to turn your current ideas into realities and to come up with new, potentially groundbreaking, ideas for future work. The book is essential for any open-minded creator who wants to take his productive, creative powers to another level.

In the first half of "Kick-Ass Creativity," the author reviews the key concepts and principles of energy, such as discovering our motivational desires, maintaining positivity, manifesting wants, opening to receive, quieting the mind, developing focus, and entering flow/intuitive states, etc. These principles apply to all areas of life and really do work. In the second half of the book, she shows readers how to apply these principles to their creative endeavors - be it report writing for a corporate job or sculpting. Her combination of theory and advice for practical application is perfect.

Read this book, do the exercises, amplify the energy that is already inside you, connect with the energy of the universe, and bring your ideas to life.

My story - why this book worked for me: I am a PhD student who has been suffering from a severe case of writer's block - so severe, in fact, that I had to leave my home in Hawaii and spend five months in the mountains of Utah to overcome it.
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37 of 46 people found the following review helpful By ChristineMM TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'll get right to the point. Other readers may enjoy this book, if so, I'm happy for you. I don't like this book so I am using Amazon's rating star of 2 which they classify as "I Don't Like It". It just isn't for me. Maybe I'm too serious, or that I take my creative endeavors too seriously. I was looking for an upbeat, fun, inspiring book but this just didn't work for me.

Author Maziarz has a colloquial writing style. It feels as if a friend is giving you a pep talk which is good if you're in the same groove. "Get ready and hold on tight, `cause this is going to be a rockin' trip" and regarding your inner artist she says, "Let's set that sucker free!"(page 1). This is not the traditional more professional written language style that book authors used to always use (and which I'm accustomed to). I know "kick-ass" is in the title but this type of lingo is throughout and it's not the way I talk or what I like to read, it distracts me, to be honest. The author uses slang and trendy phrases like WTF, but changes it to "what's the focus" (page 34) and uses slang phrases like "pissed off" (page 72).

Maziarz also is a bit over the top with her descriptions, it felt odd to me. "Every day you have the potential to make contributions to the universe that no one else can possibly provide. You've got something special to offer. You're gifted, even." (page 10) Perhaps I'm just sick of hearing that everyone is special and fantastic and that we're all gifted persons...

The book is full of new-age talk which was a bit much for me. I'm just not into all that New Age stuff. I've been there, done that, and I've had enough of it.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Karen Tiede VINE VOICE on November 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm old. I'm tired. I'm productive. I don't have energy to be "Thrilling!" or work at the "Next level!" or "Make a big mark on the world!" I make art. I sell some of it. I show up to the rest of my work and life. I go to bed, and I start again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Someone in my art class last night said, "Oh, I could never paint 100 of anything..." (in response to my current exercise) and I thought, "Hum. Maybe that's your problem... You should try a bit of discipline and practice..." I've read Cameron and I write three pages a day, every day, and I get in a few Artist Dates regularly, and I make art. How complicated is it? Creativity, per se, is not and has not been my problem. Implementation and execution are my problems, plus inventory management (both raw materials and finished work), and add in a bit of physical therapy / ergonomics so I don't destroy my body or health in the process of making the art I want to make. So maybe I'm just not the right audience for this book.

When I need to kick my creativity to the next level, I re-read Art & Fear, by Bayles & Orland, or maybe The View from the Studio Door, by Orland. They don't take very long at all, and they're clear, and they send me back to the studio to make more art. The best artists are the ones who make the most art.

I really can't stand reading books written in the 2nd person--"we live in a different world than masters of the past," especially when the writing jumps from second to third person imperative.

I could go on, but I don't really want to. The book didn't work for me. My art's calling.
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