Summer Book Reads: “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp“The composer Igor Stravinsky did the same thing every morning when he entered his studio to work. He sat at the piano and played a Bach fugue… repeating the routine each day in the studio induced in him some click that got him started.”

American choreographer Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit has a unique bent that is focused more on the habit of doing art as opposed to trying to explain what it is and why it’s important. The result is a book that can be very helpful to people from all walks of life who want to be more creative and develop the habits that go with it.

There is a sub-genre of self-help books on creativity. Some are good, some are fuzzy-headed, and some are tedious expositions written by observers of creative people.  Eventually though, understanding creativity comes down to understanding the process of it all. How any artist can go about making something from nothing, is really not mysterious, but usually is the result of a lot of hard work.

Tharp’s book does not shy away from this “perspiration over inspiration” notion. These ideas seem best explained by people who do art and have done it for a life time. In this regard, Tharp’s book speaks with authority, practicality, and real-world experience.  Anecdotes and creative exercises are drawn from her own work and the work of other creators. Chapters like “Rituals of Preparation”, “Your Creative DNA”, “Scratching”, and “Spine” go a long way in helping the reader think about how they can apply the principles she outlines and enjoy the process of being creative.

Twyla Tharp has had a 35+ year career as one of America’s greatest choreographers.  Her works have been performed by the Joffrey Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Paris Opera Ballet and more. Her work work for the Broadway musical Movin’ Out earned her a Tony award. She is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Highly recommended. $16.00. Published by Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.   Available at Amazon for $9.04.  Read sample pages HERE.


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