Friday, 3 October 2008

The Creative habit by Twyla Tharp

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp has the sub-title: “learn it and use it for life: a practical guide”. The premise of the book (to which I totally subscribe) is that creativity is a habit, a process you can harness and put in motion. If you have sometime sparks of creativity, it’s because you are disciplined and you have been working hard. As the author puts it, “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits.”

The good news is that everyone can be creative, that creativity can be unearthed with perseverance and the right process. The bad news for those who hope to arrive somewhere but don’t want to bother with the journey is that “there is no “natural” geniuses.”
Twyla Tharp is a choreographer and examines her creative process. She talks about:

  • The rituals of preparation,
  • What is the “creative habit”
  • How you can harness your memory to feed your creative mood
  • Her box system, where all material and inspiration for one project goes
  • Her creative methods, in particular “scratching” (or how everything can become material for your creativity)
  • How to deal with ruts and grooves
  • Dealing with failure
Many of Twyla’s advice can be transposed to other forms of arts.
The design of the book is stylish, making the read even more enjoyable. The layout, illustrations, typography and colour of the pages (white, grey or black) keep you in a creative mood.
This book is the journal of a creative journey, personal yet useful for anyone who craves to explore her or his own creativity. This is not about theory but a practical manual peppered with exercise to help you on your quest.

"Coins and Chaos", one of the exercises described in the book

In a nutshell: a practical book to read, use, and read again.

Favourite quotes

On the paradox of creativity:

“There’s a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and repetition. That paradox intrigues me because it occupies the place where creativity and skill rub up against each other.”

“This, to me, is the most interesting paradox of creativity: In order to be habitually creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative, but good planning alone won’t make your efforts successful; it’s only after you let go of your plan that you can breathe life into your efforts.”

On metaphors:

“Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we’ve experiencing now with what we have experienced before. It’s not only how we express what we remember, it’s how we interpret it – for ourselves and others.”

The Book

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (on Amazon in the US - Affiliate link)
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (on Amazon in the UK - Affiliate link) 
The creative habit: learn it and use it for life: a practical guide
By Twyla Tharp, Mark Reiter
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0743235266, 9780743235266

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