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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  27,563 ratings  ·  1,026 reviews
Creativity is not a gift from the gods, says Twyla Tharp, bestowed by some divine and mystical spark. It is the product of preparation and effort, and it's within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it. All it takes is the willingness to make creativity a habit, an integral part of your life: In order to be creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative. In Th ...more
Paperback, 247 pages
Published January 6th 2006 by Simon Schuster (first published 2003)
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Boni Aditya For School Children, No not really! For Coaches mentoring school children in arts to teach, Yes! This book is for artists i.e. people already in arts,…moreFor School Children, No not really! For Coaches mentoring school children in arts to teach, Yes! This book is for artists i.e. people already in arts, who are amateurs. School children who have no clue about the arts, will definitely not get the crux of the book. (less)

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Indigo Editing/Ink-Filled Page
Being both an editor and a writer, one of the most difficult things for me is actually getting my day going. I confess that I am a notorious procrastinator, both in my creative and professional life. Part of this is habit, but the other part is not always having an anchor in my day that tells my brain it is time to get to work already, no more excuses, no more fear.

Luckily, I have found a way to make my time count. World-renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp, in her book, The Creative Habit: Learn
...more
Gretchen Rubin
I love this book. Very practical and concrete about her own creative practices.
Keleigh
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it
I wasn't an avid fan of Twyla Tharp the choreographer, but her suggestions for creative discipline were inventive and inspiring. She draws from her personal inventory of art knowledge, offering anecdotes and metaphors from literature, classical music, painting, film and dance. I was impressed with her interdisciplinary approach. One of the most valuable tidbits I got was the understanding of what actually makes a habit a habit: for instance, she says she goes to the gym every single morning and ...more
Tomas Ramanauskas
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
If this is your second book on creativity, you will know the drill already:
-geniuses are made
-creativity is hard work
-routine is important

But what makes this worthwile is that everything TT preaches has been lived and tested by her. You can treat this book as some sort of memoir on creativity. Mrs. Tharp shares her excercises, her insecurities, her failures and, most interestingly, her actual creative issues and the path to the truth.

If this is your second book on creativity, you might find som
...more
Pat
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I find it inspiring to read about Twyla Tharp's daily rituals and creative habits. I suppose it belongs to the self improvement genre but it is written by a brilliant choreographer and dancer. I guess I like reading about the weird things people do to trick themselves into working fearlessly.
Kira
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: schoolbooks
I was expecting this book to be a lot better than it actually was, and I feel that the idea was good, it was just presented in a way that I didn't find at all engaging. I felt that Tharp's ideas were kind of shoved down my throat in a very demeaning way, and I didn't like the way she treated the reader. I read about multitasking while reading the book on the cross trainer at the gym; the part when she says how much she hates seeing people reading while working out. That statement was just one of ...more
Paula Cappa
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is likely the best book on creativity you'll read this year. I'm not a dancer (I'm a fiction author), but The Creative Habit addresses all artists and business minds too. This is more than just practical suggestions to stimulate your creative juices and not the same ol' you've read before. Generous with deep perspectives, philosophy, and real life insights. What do you do if you are in a rut with your project or story or music? How can you unleash the energy you need to move ahead? "Muscle ...more
Matt Burgess
May 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (2003), Twyla Tharp

One of America's greatest choreographers, Twyla Tharp, shares her insight into the creative process in her sophomore venture into authorship. The best part of The Creative Habit is at the end of each chapter where exercises are prescribed to the content of the corresponding chapter. In between you will find stories primarily from Twyla's experience with musicals and other artistic ventures.

I tend to prefer straight forward talk
...more
Kony
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a practical manual for developing creative habits. Rather, it's a thoughtful, mostly backward-looking essay that describes how Twyla Tharp stays on top of her creative game as a choreographer. This book would be most on-point for two specific categories of readers: (1) those who are professional choreographers like Twyla Tharp, and/or (2) those who are interested in reading about Twyla Tharp's career highlights. For the rest of us, the book reads more like a memoir than a how-to guide ...more
Amanda
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Twyla is a bit of a hard-ass. She thinks people that don't wake at 5:30am and then work out for two hours are lazy. She's definitely of the "will-power is king" school of thought. I certainly didn't envy her her choices in life and did not respond to her manner of writing either.
JayeL
Jan 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creativity, 2012
I started this book some time ago after I received it as a gift. I didn't get very far as it didn’t grab my attention and other books elbowed their way to the front of the line. I, finally, decided to get serious and really start reading it. One of the best things about it so far is that Twyla Tharp describes creativity as a habit. While that sounds much more boring that creativity being a flash of light from God, it is much more comforting for me. I can develop a habit; I can't really wait arou ...more
Allison
EDIT, 26 APRIL 2014: It is really funny reading this from the perspective of where I am as an artist now versus where I was as an artist in 2010, when I first read this book. (Which you can read below; it is a hoot, if not full of hubris.) Then, I was really frustrated because I took Tharp's advice literally. How ironic to critique a book on creativity when you are not creative enough to imagine the author's advice to work for your own pursuits, eh? There is one exercise in particular that I thi ...more
Anne Bogel
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
A lovely (and rather stern, in parts) look at the habits that are essential to the creative life. Does that sound boring? It's anything but. Great for those seeking knowledge, inspiration, or a good kick in the pants.
Katherine Cowley
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If there is one book on Creativity that you should read, regardless of whether you’re a filmmaker, a writer, a calligrapher, a dancer, or simply a creative coin collector, it’s Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.

While there may be elements of inspiration in art, Tharp argues that what’s more important is the habit of creativity. The habitual work makes it possible to recognize artistic inspiration, and be prepared with the skills to do something with it. Further, you end up finding and making a l
...more
Marcy prager
May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Twyla Tharp holds the secrets to success... hard work is the main ingredient. Twyla talks mostly about the hard work she has put into her craft. She also relates information about other famous lives who she admires and were successful due to the amount of work they put into their craft. Twyla writes about Mozart, who everyone thought was born with pure genius. Twyla does not dispel that Mozart was born with talent, but he was worked very hard by his talented father from an extremely early age, a ...more
Chasity
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
DNF. While I agreed with some of the concepts - such as the idea that what people perceive as talent is actually hard work - the writing was just too pretentious for me to continue to take it seriously. At several points, I had to question of the writer was actually joking or if she was really just that tone deaf to how she comes across. Her privilege absolutely leaps off the page at every turn and eventually it was just too much for me.

Examples: she says that never having seen the ballet is th
...more
Anirudh Ramanathan
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book gave me a lot of new insight into the creative processes employed by artists - some of which seems definitely worth emulating. Contrary to what I believed, successful artists seem to be ones that impose some order prior to open the stage up to creative freedom. There is routine, there are deadlines, there is regularly inspiration drawn from prior work to kickstart creative processes, and effort to get into a “groove”, and to exit a rut. The exercises, especially the question “what is t ...more
Dave Emmett
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected I would.

A few things I took away from it:
Every creative work has a 'spine', a metaphor or message that holds it together. Not exactly the theme, more like the trace of where the idea came from that kept the project going.

I liked her concept (maybe it isn't hers, but it's in the book) of a 'metaphor quotient', one's ability to use and understand metaphors, to explain the world using reference to memories and experiences. Everyone can do it, but some
...more
Sara Dahabović
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the third time I listen to a book using the Wamda app. I guess the whole point of the book is that being creative is something you can train yourself to cultivate with the right tools. Of those tools that were mentioned in the book:

1- Finding your creative "spot" or a location where you actually can get motivated and creative. Over the years I realized that my creative spot is between books and in the library where everyone around me is actively reading and studying!

2-Having some kind of
...more
Christina
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, 2017, non-fiction
'There's a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and repetition. That paradox intrigues me because it occupies the place where creativity and skill rub up against each other.' (p. 9)

As a professional choreographer for many, many years, Twyla Tharp's very existence - and well-being - is dependent on her being creative. If her creative juices run dry, she's out of a job. This means s
...more
Philippe
This is a book I keep returning to. A very practical and level-headed, yet profound articulation of the 'mind-and bodyset' that allows people to create something out of nothing. One of the many revealing elements in the book is the distinction between 'zoe' and 'bios' as basic artistic orientations:

Zoe and bios both mean life in Greek, but they are not synonymous. Zoe, wrote Kerenyi, refers to 'life in general, without characterization.' Bios characterizes a specific life, the outlines that dist
...more
jenn
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiftyfiftyme, 2014
I started this in the summer (using the Oyster app) and read a chapter or chapter section every day or so. I was really surprised at how universally applicable most of the advice turned out to be. I didn't take advantage of the written exercises, so I'm thinking of picking up a hard copy and going through it again. I particularly appreciated the way she included things like slumps, ruts, mistakes, and even aging as part of the creative life.

This was kind of like if The Happiness Project had bee
...more
Samie Kira
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read. If you're struggling creatively, or even just with life, this book gives you all the tools and tips you'll need to get back on track. Things I've been doing that I felt were spontaneous actually have a name (at least in this book) and now I can actually track the tools used with my success and failures. It's one of those you can't put down, highlight and underline, and go back to again and again.
David
I just started but I love the pragmatic approach Ms. Tharp has to creativity. She demystifies her process and attempts to make creativity and innovation accessible.

I actually stopped reading the book because the style was very expository. Since I did not have the time to treat this like a workbook with exercises I gave up on it. It got dull. She really made her creative process mundane.
Erin
Jun 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Interesting, but made me feel guilty for not leaping out of bed at 4am every day to run 30 miles and create 3 masterpieces before lunch. I didn't like her tone much. Don't think I learned anything nor found it particularly inspiring. But it was interesting enough, just because it's Twyla.
ShaRose
Nov 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: creatives
Recommended to ShaRose by: just happened upon it at library
Unique perspecitve into the creative self through exciting, unusual exercises to practice from a dancer's POV. Easy reading and fun to follow.
Leigh Haber
Sep 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This has been a rough few weeks in terms of staying focused and optimistic. Not sure why--perhaps it's the abrupt end of a short, rainy summer, and being unsure of what the fall will bring.

I turned to a book I've had on my shelf, that I discovered I'd bought at the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Co a few years ago (so the bookmark inside indicated) and never read, but now seemed so timely. Twyla Tharp, is, of course, one of the greatest dance choreographers of all time, one of the emblematic "thi
...more
Jay Cruz
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone that has to be creative
I've always been intrigued to read this book since Merlin Mann championed it over a year ago on 43folders. I'm glad I finally got to it because this book is truly a gem. Unless you skim it passively, there's no way you won't get something out of this book. Tharp insightfully demystifies the creative process, showing that it's mostly a matter of discipline and hard work. She writes about the importance of rituals and routines, or how to prepare to create. To me, this is the key thing in the book ...more
Antoinette Perez
Oh, Twyla. Thank you. Big growth between my first full read of this book almost 10 years ago, and my second time through the book, which I finished yesterday. Reading her sections on preparation, "scratching," and failure were like visiting old friends. This time, I studied intently the early chapter on ritual -- because that's my focus in the new year. Also especially enjoyed the chapters on ruts and grooves ("different sides of the same coin"), experience and naivete, and passion and skill.

Th
...more
Filipa Canelas
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read the complete review: here

I started reading The Creative Habit because of Chase Jarvis recommendation.

He wrote a blog post where he shared a list of 6 books that "will make you more creative". I chose The Creative Habit to read because the title was already a lesson! And when the title is a lesson, you know the rest of the book will be great!

Twyla Tharp, is a great American dance choreographer, that produced more than 130 dances.

Inside Creative Habit I learnt a lot about dance and Twyla exp
...more
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Twyla Tharp is an American dancer and choreographer. She has won Emmy and Tony awards, and currently works as a choreographer in New York City.

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