Tag Archive: The Creative Habit

Oct 08

Review: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp


When I finished War of Art, this started another creative self-help book binge. I haven’t reread Bird by Bird (yet), but LibraryThing thought I would like this.

A few things first about Twyla Tharp:

-I have a deep and abiding respect for Twyla Tharp and have had it for years.

-I love her style of dance. As a terrible dancer, I have a deep and abiding respect for those who can.

-She’s name checked in one of my favorite movies:


And how did I not know that she had a book? Three books?! This clearly is something that must be changed. And so it has.

One more thing before I get to the actual content of the book. Can I just say how much a well-designed book pleases me? And books on creativity are almost well-designed. They have good typefaces. Excellent white space. Judicious use of size and color and images. The book itself is gorgeous and helpful just as an item, nevermind the actual content inside. </gushing>

Tharp offers a lot of advice to creatives of all types in this book. It’s not just meant for artists or dancers–she’s pretty clear that her advice has applications to any source of passion. It’s laid out so that every chapter introduces an idea, Tharp expounds on it using a lot of examples from her own life and work, and then there are exercises and activities at the end of each chapter. And some of the exercises didn’t speak to me, and some of the advice is stuff that everybody says (go to work even when you don’t want to, don’t get bogged down in a rut, don’t get too committed to the first thing that comes out of your mind).

But there’s one section that really spoke to me. I mean, the whole book really spoke to me, but the section on rituals brought something fresh that wasn’t a needed reminder. Tharp has a routine where she gets up every morning, puts on gym clothes, and gets in a cab to go to the gym. And you might think that the gym is the ritual; it’s how she jumpstarts her day. But that’s actually not it–it’s the cab ride. By denoting a small thing that happens every morning, it signals to her body that it’s time to get up and get to work. Since the mind and body are so connected, I feel like this could bring a lot of positivity into my own life. I’ve been trying to start a routine where I get up at 7 as soon as my alarm goes off, I get a Diet Coke, and get in the shower. This proceeds into my grooming routine and life.

Now, Dale can tell you that this has not been abjectly (or even sort of) successful. But pieces of it are coming together. I now feel like I need to get a move on when my alarm goes off. And even if I burn some of the time before 9 AM reading the news or whatever, I’ve done it on my own time instead of letting encroach on work. And for that small advantage this book was truly worth it.

JMF Rating: 8.5/10

‘Til next time,