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on August 17, 2015
 "I will keep stressing the point about creativity being augmented by routine and habit. Get used to it. In these pages a philosophical tug of war will periodically rear its head. It is the perennial debate, born in the Romantic era, between the beliefs that all creative acts are born of (a) some transcendent, inexplicable Dionysian act of inspiration, a kiss from God on your brow that allows you to give the world The Magic Flute, or (b) hard work.

If it isn't obvious already, I come down on the side of hard work. That's why this book is call The Creative Habit. Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That's it in a nutshell."

~ Twyla Tharp from The Creative Habit

Twyla Tharp is awesome.

One of the greatest choreographers in the world, she'd created more than 130 (!!!) dances for her company as well as for everyone from the Joffrey Ballet to London's Royal Ballet.

In this great book, Twyla shares some uber-Big Ideas on how we can develop our Creative Habit to more consistently rock it.

Hope you enjoy a few of my favorites:

1. Rituals of Preparation - They're a must.
2. Mozart's Genius = Discipline + work ethic.
3. Give Me 1 Week Without - Silly distractions.
4. Busy Copying - If you want to be great.
5. Reading - It does a mind good.

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on January 16, 2015
Two things really bugged me about this book. First, it felt like a platform for the author to brag. Second, her emphasis on "being the most committed person in the room" and on her austerity felt unbalanced to me. I think a day off from the 5:30 AM 3 hard-boiled egg breakfast might do her creative juices some good. The feeling I got from her book was strive, force, face fears. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea, or not in my artistic DNA as Tharp might say. Also, her tone seemed judgy and unkind. I found the tone unpleasant and the content uninspiring.
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on August 31, 2015
This is likely the best book on creativity you'll read this year. I'm not a dancer (I'm a fiction author), but The Creative Habit addresses all artists and business minds too. This is more than just practical suggestions to stimulate your creative juices and not the same ol' you've read before. Generous with deep perspectives, philosophy, and real life insights. What do you do if you are in a rut with your project or story or music? How can you unleash the energy you need to move ahead? "Muscle memory" was eye opening for me. Do you need to face your fears? Twyla has got something to say about that. How do you become lucky? This book is full of answers.
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This book with change your life. It's great for creative people, entrepreneurs, designers, and just about everyone. Twyla teaches the reader how to discipline themselves in their daily lives as well as how to achieve their goals over time and how to organize their thoughts. This is a must read/listen to.
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on July 4, 2013
There is something about the tone of this book that connected me soul to soul with Twyla Tharp. The book is like her: no nonsense. She generously gives us her best advice about the mindset and habits of life intrinsic to the artist's identity and success. She shares her life, and those of a number of her collaborators.

I use the term "generously" because she shares frankly, empowering all who will take her advice to heart. She comes across as a person utterly committed to her art--being an artist is not something she does--it is something she is. this comes across clearly. But she doesn't romanticize the artist's identity, insisting that artists are made--by hard work and consistent discipline and habits--more than being born. She even shows how Mozart, the genius of geniuses, attained his heights due to intensive disciplined practice and habit.

There is not a pretentious bone in Twyla Tharp's body, nor is there a pretentious page in her book. I commend it highly.
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As is my custom when a new year begins, I recently re-read this book and The Collaborative Habit. The insights that Twyla Tharp shares in them are, if anything, more valuable now than when the books were first published.

It would be a mistake to ignore the reference to "habit" in their titles because almost three decades of research conducted by K. Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University clearly indicate that, on average, at least 10,000 hours of must be invested in "deliberate," iterative practice under strict and expert supervision to achieve peak performance, be it playing a game such as chess or playing a musical instrument such as the violin. Natural talent is important, of course, as is luck. However, with rare exception, it takes about ten years of sustained, focused, supervised, and (yes) habitual practice to master the skills that peak performance requires.

Tharp characterizes this book as a ""practical guide" but she also frames much of its material within a spiritual context. The creative process can probably be traced back to the earliest humans and yet so much of it remains a mystery. When Henri Matisse was asked if he was always painting, he replied, "No but when the muse visits me, I better have a brush in my hand." Of course, he was also prepared to transform an in inspiration into a work of art...and did on countless occasions.

In the first chapter, Tharp acknowledges what she characterizes as "a philosophical tug of war...It is the perennial debate, born in the Romantic era, between the beliefs that all creative acts are born of (a) some transcendent, inexplicable Dionysian act of inspiration, a kiss from God on your brow that allows you to give the world The Magic Flute, or (b) hard work." She adds, "Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That's it in a nutshell."

Throughout the remainder of her book, Tharp draws heavily upon her own personal as well as professional experiences (she would probably not make that distinction) while citing countless examples of other real-world situations that indicate "There are no `natural' geniuses." However, there are immensely creative people in every domain of human initiative. Therein, I think, is her primary purpose: To convince everyone who reads this book that they can be creative if they are willing to work hard enough.

Here is a representative selection of what she affirms:

o "In order to be creative you have to know how to be creative."
o "Build up your tolerance for solitude."
o "Trust your muscle memory" when physically exercising.
o "If you're like me, reading is the first line of defense against an empty head."
o "You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work."
o "Work with the best."
o "Never have a favorite weapon." (Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of the Five Rings, circa 1645)
o "Build a bridge to the next day."
o "Know when to stop tinkering."
o "Creating dance is the thing I know best. It is how I recognize myself."

There is so much of enduring (and endearing) value in this book. Perhaps (just perhaps) this brief commentary helps to explain why I read The Creative Habit and The Collaborative Habit at least once a year and consult passages in them more often. Oscar Wilde once advised, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." Those who require proof of that need look no further than Twyla Tharp whose career is her art...and whose art is her life.
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on October 3, 2013
It's helpful. In a nutshell, it tells the reader to make a habit out of the work it takes to be creative. It has exercises to help keep one's focus. But some of the exercises are more based on trying to answer existential questions about yourself. The author uses herself as a test subject for these exercises and she naturally comes back to her beginnings and the innate reasons for being as a resource to gather creative ideas. But I couldn't finish the book because the author kept talking about herself the entire time outside of said exercieses and then uses famous figures in history to support her choices in life. Despite her intentions, her need to validate her career choices show up whenever she talks about her unique name, her upbringing, her earlist memory, etc. I appreciate that her book's main message is that ingenuity, creativity, and talent all result from unglamourous, habitual, consistent, hard work. But that message is overrun by the author's introspection of herself.
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on June 3, 2015
Twyla is a genius- she is able to convey her artistic strengths and the difficult task of explaining the creative mindset in a comprehensive, checklist. She includes brilliant advice, action plans, to do lists, and inspiration. She draws on the genius of Beethoven, DaVinci, Thoreau, and many others to drive home her points. Explaining how to be creative is no easy task, and I wasn't sure if this book would be just another ambiguous attempt, but was pleasantly surprised. Twyla's work has inspired me to grow as an entrepreneur. Her book can be catered to any profession, skill set, or artistic venture. Can't recommend this book enough.
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on May 11, 2017
I had to buy this after checking it out at the library too many times. It is a wonderful book to have on my night table to remind me of who I am and inspire me to maintain my practice as an artist. I dip into it from time to time like talking to a dear friend. Thank you, Ms. Tharp for elevating life and demystifying the creative process.
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on March 11, 2017
Twyla Tharp's book is a great resource for the "left brained" creative. Although written by a choreographer, Tharp uses her experience as a backdrop to paint solid mental models, and does not beat the reader over the head with her trade. Interspersed with useful exercises and insightful anecdotes, this is the book I recommend first and foremost to those who ask me for resources on creativity... especially my analytical colleagues in finance, accounting, and IT. Very solid depth yet very digestible for the casual reader.
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