I love reading about creativity and soak up advice on how to live creatively and create the best work you can. It’s interesting so see creativity as a habit and think about how to create rituals and habits that will make your work and life more creative. Twyla Tharp talks about this and much more in her book ‘The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life’. I illustrated a few snippets I learned and/or liked.
Lottery tickets for creativity
“Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature – all are lottery tickets for creativity.” pg.103
Twyla Tharp’s passion for reading is contagious. In fact, she is partially the reason why I took up the habit of reading half an hour a day in the first place. She describes how when you read regularly, it provides you with an infinite amount of new ideas. And I believe her. Besides reading, she explains a whole range of things that work as catalysts for your creativity. When you’re stuck, you can easily refer back to this list to gain ideas on how to gather inspiration again.
How to prepare to begin your creative work
“Select the environment that works for you. Develop the start-up ritual that impels you forward every day. Face down your fears. Put distractions in their proper place. You have begun to prepare to begin.” pg.28
I love the idea of a start-up ritual. A start-up ritual can be anything: drink a cup of coffee on your porch, light a candle, turn on the music, whatever. As long as it is a small thing that kick-starts all the behavior that comes next: your work-out when you’re a dancer, starting to paint when you’re an artist, composing a song when you’re a musician. To be fair, I haven’t decided upon what I want my start-up ritual to be yet. The book did make me want to create one though. I’m thinking along the lines of coffee and candles.
Common mistakes that undermine your creative efforts
“These mistakes – relying too much on others, waiting for the perfect setup, overthinking structure, feeling obligated to finish what you’ve started, and working with the wrong materials are deadly. Any one of them will undermine your best efforts.” pg.128
We all face difficulties that hold us from creating our best work. I could relate to the part where Tharp talks about feeling obligated to finish what you’ve started: “Obligation is not the same as commitment, and it is certainly not an acceptable reason to stick with something that isn’t working.” How true! I’m a woman of my word, and when I say something I will do it. However, this can also be a pitfall. It’s freeing to understand the difference between commitment and obligation, and how the latter actually isn’t constructive for your creative work.
How to make your creative groove last
“Ernest Hemingway had the nifty trick of always calling it a day at a point when he knew what came next. He built himself a bridge to the next day. I cannot think of a better creative organizational tool. The Hemingway bridge is how you extend a mini-groove.” pg.205
I like to stop at a point when I just finished something. It makes the checking-off-to-do-list-center in my brain light up in pleasure (or at least that is how I imagine it). That being said, often I do just write a couple of sentences in a new document. Then I keep it open for when I want to work on it later. That way I have something to start with other than an empty page. But I love the idea of using the Hemingway bridge to stay into my creative work flow and make sure my groove lasts longer than a couple of hours or a day.
The difference between a good and a bad idea
“A good idea is one that turns you on rather than shuts you off. It keeps generating more ideas and they improve on one another. A bad idea closes doors instead of opening them. It’s confining and restrictive. The line between good and bad ideas is very thin. A bad idea in the hands of the right person can easily be tweaked into a good idea.” Pg. 96
It’s sometimes hard to know when or why something is a good or a bad idea. I often have a feeling of why something would work, but find it hard to make the exact reasons explicit. Tharp’s description of ideas nailed it. It’s exactly how I feel when I get all enthusiastic about an idea and lie awake in bed because ideas keep coming. I will definitely use this definition of good and bad ideas when I need to distinguish between the two in the future, for example when selecting ideas.
Have you read ‘The Creative Habit‘ or any other books lately that made you want to actively find ways to live creatively? Do you have any book recommendations for me? I would love to hear them!
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