Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Creative Habit

Since becoming a full-time studio artist back in August, I'm not reading for pleasure nearly as often as I used to. I find myself dearly missing those subway rides to and from work if only for the fact that I could lose myself in 25 minutes of uninterrupted reading time. So it took me a while longer to finish reading Twyla Tharp's book: The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life , however I can't recommend it enough. Inspiring and insightful, this book will make you look honestly at your own creative work habits and strive to better them.

I have a confession to make: I'm an Underliner. When I buy a book - and love a book - I underline my favorite passages so I can go back to it and re-read sections when necessary to refresh my mind about its' messages. Some of my favorite underlined sections from this book:

"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."

"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 provides us with a childlike fearlessness that is the polar opposite of the alleged wisdom that age confers on us, the "wisdom" telling us some goals are foolish, a waste of time, invitations to disaster. In its purest form, inexperience erases fear. You do not know what is and is not possible therefore everything is possible."

"More often than not, I've found, a rut is the consequence of sticking to tried and tested methods that don't take into account how you or the world has changed."

"Repetition is a problem if it forces us to cling to our past successes. Constant reminders of the things that worked inhibit us from trying something bold and new. We lose sight of the fact that we weren't searching for a formula when we first did something great; we were in unexplored territory, following our instincts and passions wherever they might lead us. It's only when we look back that we see a path, and it's only there because we blazed it."
Lately I've been feeling a big change coming on in regards to my work… can you tell? In going back through the book for quotes just now I realized almost everything I underlined speaks to me about that.


Emily said...

Thanks for the review. I picked up this book in a bookstore about a year ago but never got around to buying. Sounds wonderful!

Ashley said...

Yes, thanks for the tip. This sounds like a really insightful read.

alisa said...

maybe i should read this too. i've been so uninterested in my work lately and need a new perspective.

Margaux Lange said...

Hi all!
I think it's definitely worth owning. It centers around Twyla Tharp's career in dance/choreography but the ideas apply to all artistic mediums. She is quite an impressive lady! Talk about drive!

I know it helped me feel like I could get out of my rut (even if I'm not in the clear just yet) Read it and let me know what you think!