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Hardcover The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life Book

ISBN: 0743235266

ISBN13: 9780743235266

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good*

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Book Overview

All it takes to make creativity a part of your life is the willingness to make it a habit. It is the product of preparation and effort, and is within reach of everyone. Whether you are a painter, musician, businessperson, or simply an individual yearning to put your creativity to use, The Creative Habit provides you with thirty-two practical exercises based on the lessons Twyla Tharp has learned in her remarkable thirty-five-year career. In "Where's...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings


At age 12 I wanted to run away to New York and be a choreographer like Twyla Tharp. Now, reading her most recent book, I understand why that particular dream never happened. I thought in words (she explains in an interesting story about a painter who wasn't a painter), so I became a writer instead... some would say a successful one. But the idea of Ms. Tharp remained... the image of a focused, impassioned productive artist who created so many of the tableaux I adored. I have taught the Julia Cameron book "The Artist's Way," but deep down I yearned for instruction from the Big Guns, a word from one of the true masters. This elegant, disciplined, focused-yet-imaginative book was the answer. I found it by accident while browsing a section of the library on memory and imagination. It almost fell into my hands, and I've been poring over it much as a single urbanite might study the "Weddings & Celebrations" section of the New York Times. It stands beside Ray Bradbury's "Zen and the Art of Writing," above Benjamin Zander's "The Art of Possibility" (Zander's is good, but this is so much more), and really on its own as a fascinating document of how someone *that talented* gets the job done. A rare, rare gem.

Artist's way of discipline

Inevitably any self-help creativity book will be compared to Julia Cameron's block-buster, The Artist's Way. Those who liked Cameron will find similarities here, but also differences. I will be recommmending both for my career change and business consulting clients. 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. While I enjoyed Tharp and recommend the book to everyone, I believe it's targeted to people who are already committed to making a living through creativity. Some people have an innate sense of what sells while others struggle with unread manuscripts and unseen artwork. I would read The Creative Habit as a set of ideals, a philosophy rather than a prescription. For example, to get out of a rut, Tharp recommends, "Challenge your assumptions." This is not easy, as few people recognize their own assumptions. And as for acting on challenges...well, that's a whole new world! Finally, as a career consultant, I am reminded that much of our world favors commercialism over creativity. Jobs often reward those who stay quietly in their boxes, rather than going outside the box. Once your creativity awakens, it's easy to become frustrated because there's no place to carry it out. But for most people, the creative life can bring its own rewards. And a daily practice session (if you know how to create a purposeful practice session) can surprise you. -- Cathy Goodwin (.com)

Best book on how to develop a creative practice

As a frequent consumer of self-help genre books, I had a fair amount of skepticism regarding this one. What could a dancer teach me? However, having read the entire book cover to cover while underlining key ideas, words, or phrases, I have to say this is probably the most practical and insightful book on the creative process that I have ever read. Kudos to Twyla for demystifying creativity. She demonstrates that while there is no substitute for talent (and perhaps the blessings of the gods), much of the creative process is about discipline, focus, dedication, rituals, and creating space for allowing your creative spirit to spring forth. This is a book I will turn to again and again. Simply the best of its kind.

Make it a habit.

Twyla Tharp's new book, The Creative Habit, is1. 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. Tharp is very generous in sharing details of her work regimen and her methods for getting things done. Obviously it works for her. The good news is that because her methods are so practical, they can work for others, too.Tharp uses photos very sparingly in this book, so if you're looking for a photo history of her career or her company, this isn't the book. She focuses on the Creative Habit and she doesn't make herself or her work the center of the story; she draws on the experience and history of many well-known artistic giants and a few lesser known artists as well. If you want to create or you're interested in the creative process, don't wait for the paperback. I've seen many books on creativity, but this is by far the most practical and accessible one I've read. Tharp knows that it takes hard work and good habits to create something tangible, and she doesn't waste our precious time on mystical mumbo jumbo or some magical "way" of the artist. It's the work, folks.

Excellent Guide to Mastering the Creative Life

This is an excellent guide to mastering the creative life for any creative professional (or as Tharp suggests, it's for any personal creativity as well). Full of great anecdotes, excellent quotes, usable activities and exercises, and most importantly, full of advice and questions that make the reader reassess their goals and their career. The book is thin and some pages occasionally have larger text for emphasis, but don't let that deceive you. It's a vast storehouse of knowledge: ranging from Mozart, to Dostoevsky, to childhood photographs, to how to keep your creative activities organized and so on and so forth. Tharp reminds me of Hemingway in her ability to get to the point, she doesn't stray, and yet her brief topics are fulfilling as starting points for your own exploration into what works for each individual artist. Books like this keep me going strong when I'm flagging.
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