Review: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Review: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

I’m only beginning my creative writing career. I haven’t sold any writing, but I have been published here and there. Not to mention on my own site. Oops. I mentioned it.

I have, however, been a ‘creative’ for my entire life. Whether I was pretending to be Speed Racer and taking the Mach 5 to new speeds, playing “Lost Boys” with my best friend, Davy, as I played the smart boy and he played the strong one to get us out of a lava flow dangerously getting closer and closer, or drawing out a story for a graphic novel that I left unfinished, I’ve been ‘creating’ things my whole life.

In fact, I realized a few years ago, that I was even ‘creating’ my life.

When I was asked to extend a course in Creative Identity from one semester to a second semester at the New Design School, a graphic design school in Fayetteville, AR, I was conflicted on what direction to take. In the first course, I took the new students on an inward journey of creativity to see how they viewed themselves and the world to better communicate their commercial creative designs to come. So where could I take them in a second course?

Luckily, I’m surrounded with amazing people, including my lovely, talented, and amazing partner, Christi, who said, “Have you read Making Ideas Happen yet?” I’ll review this book in another article. But it led to the perfect foundation for the class. One aimed at teaching action.

But it was missing an element.

I went through two or three other books and finally landed on Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life.

While Twyla Tharp is a dancer, her life is all about creativity. And in this book she breaks down all the aspects of living a creative life, the struggles, joys, and accidents along the way.

This book brought the soul of the class to life.

The graphic design of the book also creates a vibrant, easy to read experience. But that’s a different kind of review.

I walk into a white room

The book begins…

I walk into a large white room. It’s a dance studio in midtown Manhattan. I’m wearing a sweatshirt, faded jeans, and Nike cross-trainers. The room is lined with eight-foot-high mirrors. There’s a boom box in the corner. The floor is clean, virtually spotless if you don’t count the thousands of skid marks and footprints left there by dancers rehearsing. Other than the mirrors, the boom box, the skid marks, and me, the room is empty.

As she shares her lifetime journey of dance, she takes you through stories of meeting with Billy Joel to pitch her broadway show idea Movin’ Out, through her failures, her successes, and gives you insights to how she and other creative lifestyles evolve and grow.

I was amazed at how easily her The Creative Habit book matched the content of Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky, over the 12 week class. Her views on how getting “An ‘A’ in Failure” lined up perfectly with how creative professionals shouldn’t get bogged down by failing, but take time to reflect on the internal and external forces and find the lessons to be better prepared in future endeavors.

Tapping into your “Creative DNA,” “Scratching” for ideas, and, my favorite chapter, “Before You Can Think out of the Box, You Have to Start with a Box.”

Again, the parallels with Making Ideas Happen were in alignment where the topic was all about how we all are much more creative when we have a smaller canvas to work on. For example, Tharp said to watch out for people that offer you all the resources you need, no direction, and no restrictions as they are setting you up to fail. But beyond that, Tharp describes her system for creating projects. She makes a box to put all her ideas into and then begins organizing everything into an order to move forward. This is nearly identical to the Action Method described in Belsky’s book.

Tharp also gives exercises to help those interested in building a habit of creativity at the end of every chapter. Some are simple introspective exercises. Others are more time consuming and require physical activity, from stomping your foot and shouting, “BEGIN!” to taking yourself on a trip of exploration.

This book is a MUST for those who have gone through the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, as it shows a real life example of someone who has implemented living a creative life by creating a real creative habit.

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You can find all three books on Amazon.com for well under retail.

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Photo Credit via http://www.twylatharp.org/: © Richard Avedon.

Creating New Things

Creating New Things

Looking back at some of my old ‘God’ image, I realized I had ditched a path of creativity.

With only a few days away from my 44th birthday, I did a quick glance back to all those things I left behind or gave up trying.

Now, some of you who know I’ve gone through Happiness Coaching may say, “WAIT! You can’t look back and regret your decisions! That leads to unhappiness.” Right?

However, I can assure you, what I’m doing instead is looking back at what I used to WANT to do, but didn’t think I should.

Music. Art. Writing.

In fact, I wanted to be a computer game designer and started to study in college, but the college only had programming. Actually it only had a math degree with an emphasis on computer programming.

So, my look back has made me realize how amazing I feel when I create stuff from the heart, from emotions, from passion.

Here are two I did this evening after finding a really really great site filled with free images, brushes, filters, templates and more.

Thanks for letting me share.

Deity-A-Day 8 | Chad

Deity-A-Day 8 | Chad

With the encouragement from a friend, and the fact that I realized I don’t WANT to work on my drawing and sketching skills as much as I thought i did AND realizing I LOVE the creative challenge, I have decided to leave the Greek Mythology behind.

Not Norse.

Not Hebrew.

Not Hindu.

Not Native American.

The new Mythos I will be creating from is….

…wait for it….

…mine.

We will be exploring the new Gods of the earth today.

Traditionally, gods were created in mythology to explain naturally occurring events, explain things that have occurred in the past, or give personalities to phenomena.

Today… we begin with….

Dedicated to my friend Jeannie…the inspiration for my new creative path on this 365 day challenge.

Update: Quesiton, should I add mythology stories for each creation? Here is a stab at Chad (added after original post)

Chad was conceived after his mother, Selma Lou, and father, Chuck Jr., were enchanted by the magical powers of the wizardly potions of Captain Morgan, a ruthless pirate, and shooters of Cuervo. His birth was somewhat of a surprise and he was raised on the brown nectar of cocoa-coala which gave him the powers of speed and agility. When he reached a certain age, the cocoa-coala no longer helped him. He quested and went to many lands to finally defeat the Star crowned mermaid named “Buck” who granted him a grand goblet of ever flowing mocha.

Deity-A-Day 4 | Dionysus God of Wine

Deity-A-Day 4 | Dionysus God of Wine

In hindsight, I should have started on January 1 with Dionysus, the God of Wine and Hedonism. But since I didn’t get schnockered on New Year’s Eve, I had no hangover on New Year’s Day to give me that inspiration.

As a god goes, this one is a lot of fun. Not only the god of wine, but of ritual madness and ecstasy. According to some sources, he entered into the Greek mythology late but is still considered one of the 12 rulers of Olympus. Many jokes may ensue when you read about Dionysus. In Roman mythology he was named Bacchus.

One entry I found interesting was he was the God of Liberation as in, liberating people from their inhibitions and one’s normal self through music, wine and dance. Read more about Dionysus here.

My sketch is not entirely original. My research found references to the god being rather uni-sexual with traits of both a man and woman…or rather a ‘womanish man.’ AND I found out that Centaurs and Satyrs loved to party with Dionysus.

Fifteen minutes doesn’t give me enough time to draw an entire orgy, so your stuck with a pudgy, drunken face.

See you tomorrow!

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