The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life – by Twyla Tharp

How strongly I recommend it: 9/10
See my lists of books for more.

Go to the Amazon page for details.
Written by one of America’s greatest choreographers. It tackles creativity from a dancer’s perspective, but it’s easily applied to other fields.


Being creative is a full time job. Without learning and preparation, you won’t know how to harness your real power.
To get the creative habit, you need a working environment that’s habit forming.
List the biggest distractions of your life and make a pact with yourself to do without them for a week. (Example: movies, multitasking, social media, phone…)
What’s the one tool that feeds your creativity and is so essential that without it you feel naked and unprepared?
Ideas can be acted in four ways:

  1. You must generate an idea (usually from memory, experience or activity.
  2. You have to retain it. Hold it steady in your mind and keep it from disappearing.
  3. Inspect it. Study it and make inferences about it.
  4. Transform it. Alter it in some ways to suit your higher purposes.

Skill gives you the wherewithal to execute whatever occurs to you. Without it, you are just a font of unfulfilled ideas.
Every artist faces this paradox. Experience—the faith in your ability and the memory that you have done this before—is what gets you through the door. But experience also closes the door. You tend to rely on that memory and stick with what has worked before. You don’t try anything new. Inexperience is innocence, naïveté, and humility. Inexperience erases fear.
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.
A rut is when you’re spinning your wheels and staying in place; the only progress you make is in digging yourself a deeper rut. A groove is different: The wheels turn and you move forward effortlessly.
We get into ruts when we run with the first idea that pops into our head, not the last one. Sometimes you can’t identify a good idea until you’ve considered and discarded the bad ones.
Part of the excitement of creativity is the headlong rush into action when we latch onto a new idea. Yet, in the excitement, we often forget to apply pressure to the idea, poke it, challenge it, push it around, see if it stands up. Without that challenge, you never know how far astray your assumptions may have taken you.
The bad thing about grooves is that they end. Ruts can be transformed into grooves building bridges to the next day, that allows you to save energy.
Knowing when to stop is almost as critical as knowing how to start. How do you know when something is not only the best that you can do but the best that it can be?
You do your best work after your biggest disasters.