Our Book Club book for August was The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp. For those of you who don’t know, Twyla Tharp is a dancer and choreographer as well as a writer. She lives a life of creativity and shares her experiences and knowledge with us in this book.
I enjoyed reading this book. I like her insights and ideas and how she shares things from her own life experiences to illustrate what she is talking about. It’s not just fluff and fun, but real life experiences. And even if you don’t know who she is or don’t follow dance and ballet and theater, you can still understand what she is talking about.
Our book club discussion talked about how much we loved the true-life examples of her ideas (both good and bad examples). We were happy that she used her personal stories, but we also enjoyed the stories from other artists in other mediums (writers, painters, musicians) that also illustrated her points. The ideas didn’t just relate to her own dance and choreography, but to all the various arts.
“Venturing out of your comfort zone may be dangerous, yet do it anyways because our ability to grow is directly proportional to an ability to entertain the uncomfortable.”
We loved the fact that she still did the work – every day she works out, she practices dance moves even though she is no longer the dancer, she reads and researches and studies all the time. She is always learning, always stretching, always desiring to reach farther and higher. We appreciated her authenticity of self. She definitely practices what she preaches and that is always inspiring.
“You may wonder which came first: the skill or the hard work. But that’s a moot point. The Zen master cleans his own studio. So should you.”
The book offers lots of practical advice and ideas for allowing your creativity to emerge, but also exercises that you can do to even further your creative journey. Of course with any book on creativity that includes exercises or tasks to do, the discussion then turned to how this book compares to the Julia Cameron book The Artist’s Way, which is probably the book on creativity that most people are familiar with. As is often the case, there are some people who love Julia Cameron and some who don’t. We did agree that the exercises in the Artist’s Way are probably deeper and more personal, but that both books deal with creativity in unique and inspiring ways. And the exercises in both books can provide valuable insight into your own creative process.
Twyla Tharp offers practical and grounded advice. Her book is full of interesting ideas to find your creative genius, but really, it boils down to just doing the work – the fun work, the hard work, the tedious work, the painful work, all of the work that is necessary to embrace your art.
I enjoyed her discussion about organization for projects, the ‘box’ for each project she works on. And how focused she is for each project.
“Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity. But without proper preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it.”
I liked her chapter on rut vs. groove, because we have all experienced both of those. We all want to know how to always be in the groove, and not in the rut!
“We get into ruts when we run with the first idea that pops into our head, not the last one.”
Each chapter offers a different point of emphasis that has both examples as well as advice and exercises to do. The book is easy to read and I know I will refer to it often. I definitely recommend it.
I’m sure I’ve said this before – I have to remember that I want a real book, not the Kindle book, for book club. It is much more difficult to participate in book club when I don’t have an actual book to thumb through and find the highlighted bits and notes in the margins. :)
Our book club selection for September is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I know we read this book before, but it is definitely one of the books we should re-read from time to time. We will be meeting on Sept 25th if you care to join us.
Let Your Inner Artist out to Play
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