My husband bought me a copy of Twyla Tharp’s ‘The Creative Habit – Learn it and use it for life’ for Christmas. It’s been a busy year, but the summer break is a perfect time to take stock and reflect and read some ‘self-help’ literature in preparation for back-to-school September.
I can’t deny that I was slightly put off by the review on the cover by the New York Times Book Review:
” [An] exuberant, philosophically ambitious self-help book for the creatively challenged.”
I don’t think I’m the most creative person in the world but I wouldn’t say I was creatively challenged. In fact I needn’t have worried. The challenge is about the The habit of creativity, not being creative in itself and the book is pertinent to anyone who is trying to be creative on a regular basis. Tharp writes about creativity, its pitfalls and joys from the standpoint of someone who has mastered her craft (well her art actually). She speaks about problems all creatives encounter and has a variety of tricks and solutions to keep creativity flowing, all illustrated with a rich variety of stories about musicians, writers, choreographers and artists. The book is packed with useful tips and food for thought for the creative “ruts and grooves” we find ourselves in.
Tharp is a choreographer, so some of the book is skewed to a dance perspective (Tharp is passionately and unashamedly partisan about her love of dance), but most of the advice fits the other creative arts and it applies to business people too.
The book covers different topics that will help you to harness and maximise your creativity, as well as how to deal with problems you encounter. Amongst other things it covers:
- How to prepare yourself to be creative, including challenging your fears and the rituals you should follow to get ready to create
- The importance of eliminating distractions
- Exploring and determining your ‘Creative DNA’ – what drives you to make, what inspires you and how to identify it
- The importance of planning
- Challenging yourself and your comfortable habits and your preconceptions
- Generating ideas and keeping your skill levels up, ways to think about how you draw on the world around you
- Dealing with problems and blocks
It includes practical exercises at the end of every chapter, I will certainly be making time to try some of these out.
The book is full of life and interest and what shines through are things that mark out reasons for Tharp’s success as a creative, in her story telling as much as in the advice itself:
- Her indomitable spirit
- Her ‘never say die’ attitude
- Her refusal to stop playing or changing
- Her passionate love of dance
- Her fierce intellect and vast knowledge
It certainly provides much food for thought and I intend to dip in and out of it when I’m feeling in need of a creative boost or when I start a new project.