“The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp

The Creative Habit smIt took me a while to pick up this book and read it; not because it’s got particularly long words in it, or anything, but it at 18cm x 23cm it’s a fairly large book – it somehow felt like a denser read – as if there were more words than normal.

It’s a wonderful book with loads of really sage advice for any creative.

1 – I walk into a white room – About being in the right frame of mind when approaching the  creative process

2 – Rituals of preparation – Being in the working state.

3 – Your creative DNA – How the way that you are hardwired is who you are and also how you approach projects.

4 – Harness your memory – Creation as a result of your previous experiences.

5 – Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box – About Twyla’s system of organisation of her ideas for dance choreography. This was a bit of watershed chapter for me – and has altered my approach to my own creative projects.

6 – Scratching – About the business of finding inspiration

7 – Accidents will happen – About the value of having a plan before you start and the equal value of happenstance coming along – in creative endeavours luck is a skill.

8 – Spine – About the main idea of a creative piece and why the resulting pice doesn’t necessarily require that spine flagged up and explained.

9 – Skill – About building and growing skills in different areas.

10 – Ruts and grooves – and how to shake things up and get out of them.

11 – An “A” in failure -Why failure and disasters are important in order to move your work forward.

12 – The long run – Mastering your creative process by pursuing your work over years.

I have to admit that in my relish at reading Twyla’s chapters- I didn’t always do all the exercises, which come at the end of each chapter. There are usually about three or four of these and they do seem very practical and useful.

I would say that this is probably one of my favourite books about being creative – one that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading from cover to cover – but also one that I know I will refer to again and again.


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