I have craved a creative life since I started my first journal. And, as artistic skills didn’t come naturally, I concluded that I wasn’t creative. Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life dispels a lot of the mystery around the creative/artistic life and essentially reduces it to a lot of hard work.
The premise of the book is: “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits” (Tharp). Tharp is a choreographer who has achieved a lot in her career. She conceived of and choreographed the musical Movin’ Out as well as several other ballets and dances. Even though her creative outlet is choreography, her insights and techniques are applicable to many creative disciplines.
Tharp says “in order to be creative, you have to know how to be creative…[and] there is a process that generates creativity” (pg 9). That process can be leant and includes identifying and practicing rituals that get/keep you moving, ‘scratching’ for ideas, eliminating distractions, generating the ‘spine’ of a concept, and cultivating and improving essential technical skills.
I count a book successful if one concept changes how I think about a subject – read this book with notepaper and a highlighter. Tharp’s autobiographical accounts are fascinating and inspiring and her pursuit of mastery has altered my perspective. A few things that I have incorporated into my pursuit of creativity are carrying a camera to record things that inspire me and compiling ideas/clippings/photos into a resource box. These are just a few things that I got from the book – there are several others. The Creative Habit is worth the time investment. The exercises and commentary are accessible tools that can help anyone cultivate creativity.