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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life Paperback – January 6, 2006
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1. Practical and straightforward, two attributes to be expected from a dancer. Dancers wrestle daily with the obstinacies of the flesh. It's not about smoke and mirrors. It's about hard work and commitment, the "habit" of showing up to do the work and developing one's creativity in the process.
2. Literary and literate. Tharp quotes the Bible, Dostoyevsky, Mozart, and many other greats of the Western Canon to illustrate her points and show that the struggle to be creative is nothing new and that great artists have fought the same battles as anyone who strives to create.
3. Accessible. There's no mystery or theory of genius here other than the habit of work. Tharp constantly makes the point that we have to establish habits for our creative pursuits or the work will not get done and the creativity will have no place to manifest.
4. Myth Busting. Mozart didn't get his musical genius from On High; in fact, he worked his fingers into early deformity from practicing so much. Not that Tharp proposes hurting oneself in the creative quest. She's merely making the point that practice is supreme, not sitting around waiting for the muse to make an appearance. Her choice of Mozart is historical, but I've heard similar about Michael Jordan. When other ball players were out doing whatever, Jordan was on the court practicing his shots.
5. Encouraging. One of America's greatest choreographers shares her demons with us, so we know our fears aren't "special," and no, they won't go away with success, so stop with the "if only." Wrestling demons is just part of the process; it comes with the territory.
I love the layout of this book: an airy, elegant use of color, font, and white space, which parallels the visual of her stage work.Read more ›
Cameron directly uses "spirituality" throughout her book, with references to "God," who, she says, can be broadly defined. She appeals to images and emotion.
Tharp goes directly to action. She's strictly verbal: no cute sayings, no quotations all over the page. She's as unadorned as the Nike swish and just as straightforward: "Just do it" could be her motto.
Her own life seems starkly disciplined. Lots of people get up before dawn (they must not have dogs -- mine demands a walk right away) but Tharp actually gives up movies while she's working on a project. Not just movies, but videos as well. Too distracting, she says.
The key to art, she says, is practice. Dancers start with class, whether they're stars or corps members. Painters prepare their material. Practice harder, she says, but with "purpose." And practice what's difficult. We tend to practice only what we do well. I think not only of dancers, but of basketball players like Cynthia Cooper, who practiced left-handed dribbling and three-point shots for hours.
My favorite part of Tharp's book was her discussion of ruts. A rut can be associated iwth bad timing, a bad idea, bad luck, most likely because you don't realize you have changed and the world has changed.
Her advice foro a typical artist problem - when to stop tinkering - is straightforward: When you feel that you have straightened out a messy room, stop! Otherwise, keep working.Read more ›
When I decided to read The Creative Habit right after The War of Art, I have to admit I gave myself a great big pat on the back. The War of Art was great in helping artists recognize & identify where & why Resistance stops you from doing That Creative Thing You Do, but the phrase "A Practical Guide" at the bottom of the cover of The Creative Habit made me think that it would address the "how." Sure, The War of Art really hit home with that beloved phrase, "Just do it (Every day. No matter what)," & while that's simplistic & powerful in so many ways, the artist & life coach in me wanted more. I was hoping The Creative Habit would deliver it, and it did - to a point.
The Creative Habit is divided into chapters that formulate a foundation for Tharp (Spine, Memory, Accidents, etc). She delves into personal anecdotes & advice, always followed by a suggestion of different exercises to further you along in your discovery & personal interpretation of that idea. For example, Twyla speaks often of "scratching", or the process of "digging through everything to find something" - an idea, an image, anything that'll turn into a tangible idea that'll spark your creative endeavor. One of the most memorable exercises comes at the end of the chapter, where she encourages the reader to take a handful of coins in any number & denomination & toss them onto a table to see how they fall, & then rearrange them into a pattern again & again & again, like "a musical chord resolving." I can see how it helps her, a world-renowed choreographer, come up with new configurations for her dancers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I purchased this book based on reviews, with the hope of breaking past creative blocks. She spends a lot of time on her personal achievements, and a lot less time on the actual... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Andreana
This is a really lovely book with tons of useful techniques for the creative person and also a great personal narrative.Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed reading about her process and discipline. This book is an encouraging study for any artist.Published 8 days ago by Charles B. Murray
This is a very interesting book, it's kind of like a manual for creativity, but it has really interesting ideas and stories. Read morePublished 14 days ago by jblain
Using her own and other's experiences of creating both successfully and not, she guides the artist thru the many potential areas of growth and stagnation. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Jo Ellen Brainin Rodriguez
I enjoyed this book, but I didn't find a lot of flexibility in the methods it presents. Tharp's message, the way I understood it, was that creativity feeds off of habit. Read morePublished 28 days ago by JLW
This is an amazing book for anyone in any creative field. I recommend it highly.Published 1 month ago by Jacqueline G. May
For the purpose of this review, I’m going to put people into two boxes: businesspeople and artists. The two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive, of course, but we’ll... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Trevor Habermeyer