Currently Reading: The Creative Habit

Well, technically, this is what I just finished reading, Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit - Learn It and Use It for Life. (For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Twyla Tharp, she is one of the world's best choreographers.)


I added this book to my list this year upon the recommendation of someone in social media...can't recall who. They thought the book was fabulous and a must-read for every creative person. I believe what sold me was their assertion that the book probes the question: Are the most successful creative people those that are the most creative, OR are they the creative people who work the hardest? In other words, what is the relationship between creativity and hard work? Intriguing topic, and one I'd never seen addressed before. Into the book I delved.

SO many thoughts. Where do I even begin? 

I guess my first sort of whoa!...step back!...moment in reading this was to realize that this book was written for the creative person who is trying to be successful at what they are doing. Not that any of us set out trying to be a failure at anything. But this is a book truly written for the person striving for success. Trying to be THE best in their field. And I think for a lot of people, myself included, creative expressions are not motivated by a need to succeed. The process is more important...the quality of the work produced regardless of accolades...the greater importance behind it may have more value than any earthly success...all sorts of things motivate people besides "success". So, while the book may be more useful for that person in a highly competitive creative field, it's also thought-provoking for anyone who is creative, because it helps you probe the "why" of what your motivation is.

That led me to really question what my creativity actually is. The obvious answer is that it's my historical costuming for my shop. And then that led me back to my first thought. Am I motivated enough with my shop and the creativity I express there to be a "success" at it, or is there something else in life I view more as my "art"? And if so, what is it? And given that there are only 24 hours in a day, into what should my hard work be poured? All those questions will most likely be elaborated more upon in another blog posting.

Now, Twyla Tharp works in the highly competitive field of dance. I am not faulting her for her intense motivation and drive. I applaud it! It's a field in which you have to be fiercely tough and unrelentingly determined to rise to the top. And she has! Bravo! And along the way, she has learned some invaluable lessons which she shares in the book.

My favorite chapter was the one entitled "ruts and grooves". What's the difference between them? How to recognize you're in a rut. What to do to get out of one. I'm not currently in one, but I've been in them, and they are not fun. A rut, for me, was a feeling akin to trying to paddle a paddleboard through a pond of chocolate pudding...working, but not going anywhere...murky...dull...unmotivating...no refreshing breeze...nothing fresh and new...feeling like your most creative time is behind you...and starting to feel like you may never reach shore. I've been there, so I understood. And her advice is FABULOUS! Here are snippets from my favorite two pages of the book...

"If you find yourself caught in a bigger rut, what you really needs is a new idea, and the way to get it is by giving yourself an aggressive quota for ideas...
Instead of panicking they focus, and with that comes an increased fluency and agility of mind. People are also forced to suspend critical thinking. To meet the quota, they put their internal critic on hold and let everything out. They're no longer choking off good impulses...We get into ruts when we run with the first idea that pops into our head, not the last one."

That chapter is a GEM! It helps you realize the turning point for thinking outside the box. It would help you avoid creative ruts. It is incredibly invigorating about creative thinking in general and gets your mind racing with ideas!

I would recommend this book for anyone who works in a creative field: artists, writers, engineers (yes, they ARE incredibly creative), costumers, illustrators, and more.

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