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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  34,772 ratings  ·  1,213 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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 ·  34,772 ratings  ·  1,213 reviews

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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
Gretchen Rubin
I love this book. Very practical and concrete about her own creative practices.
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
Nada Elshabrawy
Life saver
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
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. ...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
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
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. ...more
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
Kaiti Yoo
Jan 15, 2022 rated it liked it
decided to put on hold for now. definitely helped me with making my social media approach much more disciplined, rather than spurts of inspiration. creativity is a habit, you just have to do it when you do and don't feel like it, and it'll become a system. ...more
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
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
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. ...more
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
Mystie Winckler
One take away from this book I made was settling on a start-up habit to my writing time. I’ve known that having a starting ritual is a time-honored and time-tested trick for writers, but I’ve never figured out a practice that worked for me. Tharp didn’t just share hers and others’ rituals, she dug into the principle behind the choice of routine and it clicked with me. I was able to land on my pre-writing warm up: Go into the office with my set-up and open up to full screen the draft I’m working ...more
Joshua Guest
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Best book I have read on creativity since Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Would recommend to anyone who wants to be more creative or needs help finding the discipline to give expression to their creative impulses. It helps to strike the balance between the chaos that is often associated with artistry and the order that too often gets dismissed as something only for the corporate, the religious and the non-artistic types. ...more
Mar 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nf, inspiration, art, writing
Dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp is a fascinating person, and she provides a treasure trove of inspiration in this volume. With a no-nonsense writing style, she shares genuinely useful tips and tricks for anyone trying to fuel their creative life. Included are little stories about her own routine (taking a cab to the gym first thing every morning to work out), examples of how she solved creative problems (a surprising story about creating the dance Push Comes to Shove to showcase Mikhail Bar ...more
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
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
Sara Dahaabović
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
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
Christina Stind
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, library, 2017
'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
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
Mario Tomic
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
In a nutshell what you'll learn in this book is how to form habits and routines that keep you creative. The author is Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest dance choreographers, with more than 130 dances produced by her own company. She defines creativity as a product of hard work and preparation. It's a process undertaken every day. To quote her "Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell." The book includes a lot of exercises and ex ...more
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
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. ...more
Traci Thomas
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is my second read of this book. I’d forgotten a lot. I got a lot out of it as a creative process text. Tharp helps to make creativity a practice and not a fluke. The book is a little disjointed and lacking any real celebration or acknowledgment of creatives who aren’t white (and male…aside from Tharp) which sucks. Mostly because it shows that Tharp doesn’t truly value the genius and/or process of people outside white and maleness. Except when it comes to white women dancers.
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.
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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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