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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Creative Habit

Tharp, Twyla. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.

Loved it! Practical, useful, highly entertaining. Twyla Tharp is certainly an individual with a Vigorous (and Renaissance) Mind--one of America's greatest choreographers; extremely well-read and knowledgeable in so many areas; curious and determined; and a perpetual student of art, music, literature, philosophy, and film. When something "exceeds her grasp," Tharp just keeps reaching.

I read The Artist's Way and The Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron seven or eight years ago and (forgive me those of you who adore these books) found them neither helpful nor entertaining. Not that there was nothing good there, but that the good parts could fit in a few paragraphs. Maybe Cameron's "Way" simply did not appeal to my personality. Tharp, on the other hand, had me hooked immediately.

Twyla Tharp's sharp insight and dedication to hard work; her love of good literature, art, and music and her investigations in these areas; and her examples of historical and current creative individuals...make fascinating reading.

She has worked with Jerome Robbins, Martha Graham, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, and Peter Martins in the dance world. She has collaborated with Milos Foreman on Hair, Ragtime, and Amadeus. She's created dances for the Joffrey Ballet, the New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, London's Royal Ballet, and American Ballet. She has worked with creative people in the arts and in business. Her close personal friends have included Richard Avedon and Maurice Sendak. Her own creativity aside, Tharp has known and worked with some of the most creative people of her era.

I read avidly, and while I may not be that creative, I enjoyed and appreciated this book tremendously. Tharp gives excellent practical advice for creative people in any genre, but more than that, she provides a intriguing, refreshing, and insightful look at creative people and their creative habits.

My copy is from the library, but this is a book that I want to own.

Nonfiction. Inspiration/Creativity. 243 pages.


  1. Tharp came to my school a year ago and gave a talk -- it was a good talk, but rather bizarre because it was basically her going through her book chapter by chapter. That sounds like a bad idea, right? And yet she was really funny and entertaining. I should look at this book because it might help me in my creativity/intro the arts class.

  2. I first learn of this book through work (I had to order it for the bookstore) - so I'm always suspicious of books that claim to tell us how to be creative.

    But if like you said, she's well-read and into different genres of art - I'm inclined to take a look.

    Will swing by the shelves at work tomorrow to take a peek.

  3. I've seen pics of your quilting & sewing - you are one creative lady!

    And, I've tried The Artist's Way but can't get past those morning pages. I'm not a morning person! I think I must look for this next time I'm at the library. Sounds great.

  4. I felt the same about Cameron's books. This book sounds good. I will have to see if my library has it. And Jenclair, you claiming not to be creative made me laugh. I've seen pictures of your quilts!

  5. Jenclair, you naughty book're always making my wishlists longer! Stop it some more! No, seriously -- thank you.

    I remember back in the 70s or 80s when David Byrne from the Talking Heads and Twyla Tharp teamed up on some project. Cool pairing.

  6. I'm out of breath trying to keep up with you, Jenclair! I order The Vigorous Mind and it just sits here on my desk. Now you enthusiastically draw me to another book. Hopefully some of your's and author's vim & vigor will rub off on me.

  7. Dorothy - I would like to see Twyla Tharp in person. The book is very entertaining, and Tharp mentions her talks at various colleges and universities. She encourages wide reading!

    Orpheus - I think you'd enjoy it! Tharp is smart, funny, and practical.

    iliana - The Artist's Way annoyed me, but The Creative Habit inspired me!

    Stefanie - I think you'd really appreciate Tharp's sharp, incisive comments about books and creative people!

    Bybee - Tharp's creative muse allows her to get out of the typical "ballet box" and work with some great contemporary music. That, too, charms me--her willingness to experiment, too be innovative, to take risks!

    The project with Byrne was The Catherine Wheel, and I love the reference.

    booklogged - I think The Vigorous Mind and Twyla Tharp absolutely go together!

  8. I didn't really like Cameron's books, either, but this sounds good--mostly because I'd like to learn more about Tharp, she's a fascinating character!

  9. Gentle Reader - She is a fascinating character! Very different from Cameron's books.

  10. i got this for mu birthday a few years ago and still haven't touched it. After your review I can't wait though, so thanks! I guess we all need some inspiration now and again!

  11. joanan - I think you'll enjoy it. Tharp is an interesting character with an interesting point of view.