The Creative Habit

For quite some time now I’ve been slowly reading through The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. It’s been slow mostly because I think books have times to be read, the right time to really hit you, and apparently these past few weeks were the right time for me for this book because I flew through the last half of the it.

I didn’t do all the exercises yet, I wanted to read, to see what she had to say about creativity. I’ve not seen very many dance performances in my life, it’s an art form that I know very little about, but the way in which Tharp uses dance and choreography to discuss creativity is refreshing and wonderful. It’s because I know so little about it that I had to hang on to the concepts and the ideas of how she talks about creativity rather than getting bogged down in the minutia of what she does.

But Tharp does something more in this book, she showed me a whole world of other artists who’ve written about creativity in their journals and other writings. I found a treasure trove of people that I now want to read more of and dive into some of the concepts they discuss as well. Tharp is well read and, because she’s a dancer, she’s also very well versed in music and those who create it. I loved learning more about that world.

I’ll be thinking about how she discusses concepts of the spine, skill, ruts, and grooves for a long time to come. I underlined like mad in the used copy of this book I found at Powells a few years back, but here’s one point that I’ve been thinking about a lot as I figure out where I want to go with my drawing next.

You’re only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. Craft is where our best efforts begin. You should never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that demonstrating great technique is not the same as being creative.