The Creative Habit

After reading several posts over at 43 Folders and elsewhere raving about Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, I picked up a copy from the library and have started reading it. Much of the book’s content will be familiar to those who have read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Both books talk about attention, memory, fears, etc. and both include exercises for overcoming blocks and becoming more creative. Happily (at least for me) Tharp’s book avoids Cameron’s focus on spirituality and concentrates instead on the nuts and bolts of living a creative life.

The Creative Habit is also a pleasure to read. With the stories of Tharp’s creative life to the name dropping, history lessons and marvelous typography and layout, this book would be worth a read even if you had no intention of following any of its advice or completing the exercises that Tharp recommends. I’m hoping to adopt some of the practices mentioned in the book though, especially that of the creative ritual.

The Creative Habit speaks a lot of rituals, habits that creative individuals perform day after day as a way of priming themselves for their work. Examples include a yoga practiioner’s candle lighting and a writer’s adherence to working exactly the same hours every day. I don’t think I’ve ever had such rituals, or if I have I haven’t noticed them. Much of the discipline that Twyla Tharp praises has always been difficult for me. I’ve been hard working, passionate, and highly focused on various kinds of creative work in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever had the kind of discipline that sets apart an artist like Twyla Tharp or people that she most admires. If The Creative Habit brings me any closer to practicing that kind of discipline then it will have been well worth reading indeed.

Leave a Comment