Reading: “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life” by Twyla Tharp


  1. “In order to be creative you have to know how to be creative.” Ask yourself “what’s your blank canvas?”
  2. Create a habit-forming environment and subtract any distractions
  3. “Build up your tolerance for solitude.”
  4. “Work with the best.”
  5. “Build a bridge to the next day.”
  6. “Never have a favorite Weapon.”
  7. “Reading is your first line of defense against an empty head.”
  8. Always remember why you started
  9. Don’t stay in denial. Let yourself fail and learn from it.


  • Creativity is a habit
    • Tharp acknowledges what she characterizes as “a philosophical tug of war…It is the perennial debate, born in the Romantic era, between the beliefs that all creative acts are born of (a) some transcendent, inexplicable Dionysian act of inspiration, a kiss from God on your brow that allows you to give the world The Magic Flute, or (b) hard work.” She adds, “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell.”
    • We focus on our rituals to look for inspiration. She notes, “before being, you have to know how to prepare how to be.” By continually honing and practicing our skills, we start creating.
    • It is necessary to have a habit-forming environment. Surround yourself with things that allow you to grow. After than, we must subtract our dependence on things (we often take for granted) and foster self-reliance.
      • “What feeds my spirit? What makes you feel connected to what inspires you?”
  • Tackling our fears and distraction.
    • Rituals were how primitive tribes took control over their demons and fears of the unknown. The same way happens when we are prompted to clean our room, seeing the dirt as a miniscule of doubt.
  • Creative Code: What makes your creative identity?
    • Your own temperance applied to your work transcends to the people viewing your work. (See Ansel Adams)
    • An idea, after generation, retaining and inspection, must always be transformed.
    • Always remember why you started. This is remembering your “spine”, or goals and intention to help simplify things.
    • Two sides of “Life”
“Zoe” “Bios”
Life in general without characterization Specific life, distinguished from another
Seeing Earth from space, in aggregate Scene details, individuals
Life is infinite, experienced without end Life has a beginning, middle & end. An emphasis on death. Often in narration/story
Sacred art Profane art
  • Skill is what gives you confidence
    • “Skill is the ability to execute whatever occurs to you. Without it, you are just a fort of unskillful ideas.”
    • An awareness of set skills will tell you what sets you apart. The artists never take fundamentals for granted, and always, ALWAYS, sweat the small stuff.
  • When we find ourselves in a rut:
    • “When you’re in a rut, you have to question everything except your ability to get out of it.”
      • Identify what concept is not working.
      • Write down your assumptions.
      • Challenge your assumptions (most important)
      • Act on the challenge
    • When in a rut, what we really need is to get a new idea and the way to get one is by giving yourself an aggressive quota. This forces us to suspend our critical thinking skills, put our internal critic on hold and start creating. Generate ideas beyond the obvious, the interesting and towards the complex and insightful good stuff.
    • When we fail, we can either stay in denial (which is not an option) or dig in and fix things. (Counting on routine in times of failure or rut really helps)
  • Be here for the long run
    • Museums and libraries are filled with early bloomers and one-trick ponies who said everything they had to say in their first novel, who could only compose one good tune, whose canvases kept repeating the same dogged theme. My respect has always gone to those who are in it for the long haul. According to an Italian physicist Cesare Marchetti, defining the patterns of our creative lives, on an average, creative production is limited in our youth (when we are learning), hits full stride in our prime middle years and trails off in our later years when we become exhausted of ideas, energy and motivation. As adults, we compensated with less idea generation but more hard earned wisdom about how to capture and connect those ideas. Simply,there’s nothing necessary or inevitable about shutting down our curiosity as we age.

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