The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp

When I was in college, it was sometimes a challenge to find the real text in my textbooks. Some sections were highlighted. Others might be underlined in black, green or red as well--depending upon their relative degree of importance. And the margins were filled with my own notes, arrows and stars. As distracting as that sounds, these visual cues helped me find what I needed when studying for exams. And the process of marking up the pages helped me remember and visualize facts or concepts. It was just my way of learning.

Every once in awhile, I still come across a book that is packed with so much great information that it gets that same treatment. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life is one of those books. My copy features not only highlights, underlining and notes in the margin, but a bevy of yellow sticky notes compelling me to return to specific pages on a regular basis. Written by Twyla Tharp, one of America's greatest choreographers, this book can help anyone--not just dancers or choreographers--better tap their creative energy and lead a successful and productive creative life. In particular, Tharp emphasizes, "Being creative is not a once-in-a-while sort of thing. Being creative is an everyday thing, a job with its own routines." Then she proceeds to lay out her own routines, with suggestions for writers, painters, photographers and other creative souls as well. The book is filled with great advice, wonderful examples and even a good dose of exercises.

The bottom line of the book is that creativity is a habit or routine, something that must be practiced--day in and day out. It requires developing and practicing skills--not just the dancing or painting, but the approach to creativity itself. So today I'll leave you with a quote from the book, and urge you to pick up a copy for yourself.

"Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life." --Twyla Tharp