Frankly, I don’t know why it took me so long to write this review. I attribute the very reason I am writing at this moment to the lessons that spoke to me from falling into this book. I picked this book up at the book store as a birthday gift to myself. It had been on my list for a while, as I had seen a number of creative people recommend it as practically a necessary textbook for creativity. I have never described myself as an artist, and I certainly did not have a habit of creativity in my life, but I knew it was something I craved. Perhaps this book would offer a few suggestions to help me find creativite moments more frequently in my life.
From the first chapter I knew this book was speaking to me. Calling me. Setting me up for something great. It went beyond just speaking on how important a creative life is valuable, but it called the reader, me specifically, to do something about this. Now. Make this a priority. And through practical lessons and helpful examples, the book outlined how this can be achieved.
The author, Twyla Tharp, is a talented and award winning choreographer, who shares her process of making a habit of creativity, not just through her own experience but through countless different examples from creative types from all walks of life. There were so many important lessons outlined in this book, my book is quite colorful with the graffiti of the sharpie highlights. I will attempt to not just repost the entire book in this blog post, but I feel I must share some of my favorite lessons, those bulletin board hanging moments.
She shares the story of Mozart and how whatever amount of musical gift you attribute to him, his discipline to the craft was at least if not greater than that. There are no “natural” geniuses, she says. Sure, an inner skill is helpful but the true craft is perfected through the art of doing. This means each and every one of us, no matter our creative desire, can learn this skill, not just wait for divine intervention to strike.
I found this to be so poignant for me. The starting is always the hardest part for me. But I love routine, I love tradition. So finding a routine that would work and not discourage me became a major goal. I feel I am still working on this. I have different types of creative outlets in my life, but I would say at this point writing is my primary state. A need a peaceful environment, not silent, but calm. This likely means no children. They evoke many amazing emotions from me but a calm and peaceful state is rare. So my writing is limited to sleeping periods or, if I am really really lucky, a visit to the coffee shop while dad mans the ship. With ambient noise in the background, I sit down to a cup of coffee or tea or, in the case of evening writing, a glass of wine. I glance at my notebook of ideas. With a blank word screen open, I am now ready to begin. And as Tharp said in her book, truthfully the creative habit is already there. It began with the very first step. Often the choice to begin and sit down is all I need to begin the habit.
Start every creative habit with a goal in mind, and write it down, she says. Her “box” is actually more than figurative; it is a literal box she uses to house all of the ideas for each creative project. Maybe that’s a pinboard on Pinterest for you, a notebook of scribbled ideas, post it notes sticking out of recipe books. Whatever your process, have a place to store all your ideas, even if that is all they are. It gives your work purpose. Sometimes she calls this goal the “spine” of her work. It doesn’t have to be obvious to the audience, but it is enough to start you on your path, hold your work up and keep you moving forward.
One element of this book that I found so helpful were the many exercises, 32 actually, that she suggested through out the book to get into a creative habit. The great thing about these lessons is that no matter your art, you can find ways to get into practice, to hone your skills, to create ideas. Cooking dinner is an art, exercise is an art, your job, whatever it may be, is an art. It produces something, and requires practice, skill, and generating ideas.
Well that sentence write there might as well have begun with “Hey you! Read this! This one is for you!” I can’t tell you how many times perfectionism has gotten in the way of my just doing. Remember my mission statement for this blogging project? Wake up. Coffee. Shine. Repeat. I left no space in there to sit and stew and think and ponder and gather and plan and gather and think and question and on and on and on. That is what I do best. But sometimes you just need to wake up. Begin. Do it. Make it a habit. Repeat. Every single day. And with that, you will get better.
My sister shared this video of a clip from Ira Glass regarding creative habit. It spoke to me, much like this book.
Ira Glass read creative habit. He gets it. Show up every day, give yourself a schedule. Just keep doing it. It is only through this process that you will get better. As I came to a close on reading The Creative Habit I had the spark. I knew this was more than just figuring out how to incorporate a little craft project throughout my day. I wanted a creative task that I could work on every day, or at least more often than I had been doing. And in my current state of little ones and chaos and mess, writing always seemed to be that area that I could get to. I could find my computer and my notebook and I could get to work a whole lot quicker than I could if I wanted to put together a quilt or scrapbook every memory of my life still un-scrapped. Those are creative elements I don’t want to lose, and I am sure I will come back to one day. But for now I am jumping in, as often as I can, and I am going to make a habit of this creative drive.
In this time, I can think of nothing better than a creative habit to help me find myself.
I highly suggest this book. Tap into your creative habit. We all need this. When we create, we show a little bit of our soul.