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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life [Paperback]

Twyla Tharp
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 6 2006
One of the world’s leading creative artists, choreographers, and creator of the smash-hit Broadway show, Movin’ Out, shares her secrets for developing and honing your creative talents—at once prescriptive and inspirational, a book to stand alongside The Artist’s Way and Bird by Bird.

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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life + Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Perhaps the leading choreographer of her generation, Tharp offers a thesis on creativity that is more complex than its self-help title suggests. To be sure, an array of prescriptions and exercises should do much to help those who feel some pent-up inventiveness to find a system for turning idea into product, whether that be a story, a painting or a song. This free-wheeling interest across various creative forms is one of the main points that sets this book apart and leads to its success. The approach may have been born of the need to reach an audience greater than choreographer hopefuls, and the diversity of examples (from Maurice Sendak to Beethoven on one page) frees the student to develop his or her own patterns and habits, rather than imposing some regimen that works for Tharp. The greatest number of illustrations, however, come from her experiences. As a result, this deeply personal book, while not a memoir, reveals much about her own struggles, goals and achievements. Finally, the book is also a rumination on the nature of creativity itself, exploring themes of process versus product, the influences of inspiration and rigorous study, and much more. It deserves a wide audience among general readers and should not be relegated to the self-help section of bookstores.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School--Tharp shows how and why artists must actively seek and nurture inspiration. The dancer/choreographer draws heavily on her personal experiences to guide readers into cultivating habits that give birth to success. In addition, she recounts the experiences of artists from other disciplines, including painting and cinematography. Vignettes from the lives of people such as Mozart underline the fact that even geniuses work hard to realize the fruits of their labor. A personable tone is carried throughout the book, and within the text is a gold mine of advice. Tharp not only promotes tried-and-true habits, but also encourages readers to dig deep within themselves and come up with their own answers. Most sections conclude with exercises; they are fun and almost seamlessly bring home the author's main points. The black-and-white illustrations and photos are few in number. Students from all manner of creative arts who wish to make their dreams come true would benefit from reading this book.--Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
I was attracted to this book because I like to get ideas for how to improve my writing from reading about what others use to feed their creative efforts. I have been an admirer of Twyla Tharp's for a long time, and feel slightly connected to her by having attended the same high school after she graduated and knowing her twin brothers and sister there.
The Creative Habit is a remarkable book on creative activities that anyone involved in dance, music, painting, sculpting, writing or theater will find very relevant. If you have a good imagination, you will also be able to extend the concepts here to other fields that require creativity such as business.
Where most books on creativity focus on helping you get into a brief creative groove, Ms. Tharp's work focuses on having that groove all the time in your life. Her book is informed by not only her own very creative career . . . but also by extensive contact with other creative people and having read about how others have created in the past. I found her to be the best read person on creativity whose writing I have seen.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on how to develop a creative practice Feb. 4 2004
By A Customer
As a frequent consumer of self-help genre books, I had a fair amount of skepticism regarding this one. What could a dancer teach me? However, having read the entire book cover to cover while underlining key ideas, words, or phrases, I have to say this is probably the most practical and insightful book on the creative process that I have ever read. Kudos to Twyla for demystifying creativity. She demonstrates that while there is no substitute for talent (and perhaps the blessings of the gods), much of the creative process is about discipline, focus, dedication, rituals, and creating space for allowing your creative spirit to spring forth.
This is a book I will turn to again and again. Simply the best of its kind.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the tao of tharp Jan. 26 2004
The Creative Habit is about two things: the first is that artists live disciplined creative lives and the second is that all successful people lead disciplined creative lives. Teaching through example (the making of Movin' Out) and case studies (Beethoven's morning walks), Tharp identifies a process of creativity (actually creative work): ritual, research, the power of memory, the place of failure and accident, etc. Some will resonate more than others, but throughout Tharp is thoughtful and entertaining. She's a breezy stylist with just enough self-deprecating asides to keep herself honest. The sections on dance are the most rewarding, written with both passion and an almost unlimited trove of stories (Merce Cunningham's loft, Martha Graham's arthritis, Jerome Robbins' advice).
But The Creative Habit is a lot more than entertaining stories and helpful tips. Whether she knows it or not (I'm guessing she does), Tharp is creating a philophy of life here that revolves around the importance of intelligence, work, and moving forward. If putting those words in the same sentence seems nostalgic, don't bet on it. Tharp believes in the future and her book is not simply for artists, but for anyone who believes that the greatest satisfaction in life comes from defining personal truths through reflection, action, and positive change. Like any way of life, Tharp's has its assumptions: that hard work is the foundation of all virtue and that true good is found in the new. The first is conventional wisdom, the second is the confession of a die-hard modernist, someone who knows (in her bones) that innovation is always progress and progress is always good. That's not an easy position to sustain in 2003, but if we're going to make 2004 even remotely better, it's the only one.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't just sit there. April 12 2004
Create something new. This book describes how Tharp, and the intent reader, can amplify their creative energies and direct them into creative output. It is so effective that, just a few pages in, I had to put the book down to go back to some writing that had languished.
When I got back to the book, I enjoyed it immensely. If anyone thought for a moment that creativity is some little light that flips on when it will, they are seriously mistaken. Occasional, random flashes do not support a livelihood. The good news is that, whatever your field, creativity can be cultivated. Someone working hard enough and working the right way really can generate what is needed, on a reliable basis.
The process she describes is grueling. It involves massive amounts of training and effort, every day, for years at a stretch. Like it or not, that's the way it has to be. Scientific creativity requires identical dedication and single-mindedness, as described by Santiago Ramon y Cajal in his 'Advice to a Young Investigator.' The good news is that the training works. The process is the same for a mathematician as for a painter or dancer. It is certain and effective. This doesn't mean that every painter will become a Picasso or that every dancer can be a Tharp. It does mean that a sufficiently dedicated worker can generate new ideas, good ones, predictably.
Maybe, at this point, you can imagine some whiner mewling "I'm dedicated, but that's way too much work and it's boring." Such people have no idea what dedication means. Don't argue with them. It won't do them any good, and it will waste time you could have used productively.
I admit that I never learned to appreciate dance, let alone Tharp's ouvre. I still respect her as an artist and innovator, even though I do not understand her art.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Creative Habit spells out success for everyone
I first read this book a number of years ago on the recommendation of a local artist who was a mentor and confidante to many artists. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Andrew Raczynski
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward self help read....
An Excellent down to earth writer. Offers great advise, support and experienced insight on how to nurture your bursting creative life and self expression.
Published 7 months ago by Margery Digiandomenico
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpies and ladders, notebooks and Banker's boxes
This could be the book that spawned my own creative project, a series of projects that I have been meaning to do, some for a long time, others will be spawned along the way -- but... Read more
Published 15 months ago by TheodoreStreet
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits the nail on head many times
Not a big self help book person and this maybe the only one I finished. I found it more about setting yourself up into the position to be creative. Very Good.
Published 20 months ago by James Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy the pleasure of her company and the magic of her mind
As is my custom when a new year begins, I recently re-read this book and The Collaborative Habit. The insights that Twyla Tharp shares in them are, if anything, more valuable now... Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2012 by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars The Creative Habit
This is one of the best tools to get artists of all types motivated that I've seen. The ideas are practical and helpful. Thank you Twyla Tharp for this wonderful book!!!
Published on Dec 21 2011 by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone who is not afraid the truth and who wants to...
If you are afraid of hard work or routine this book may not be for you. But if you are honest about improving your creativity, this is an excellent book about improving creativity. Read more
Published on Nov. 18 2010 by C. Robinson
3.0 out of 5 stars Some useful tips, but an effort to read
Merlin Mann, creator of 43 Folders, recommended this book in a lecture I saw on YouTube. I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't blown away either. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2010 by Matthew Hall
3.0 out of 5 stars practical but not carefully edited
Some good, no-nonsense advice, incorporating broad range of sources. Several of these sources, however, should have been checked before publication. Read more
Published on June 11 2004 by M. A. Oneal
5.0 out of 5 stars Infuriatingly Simple
Boil this book down and you're left with one idea: Work at your craft ever day.
Twyla Tharp has created a book that is inspiring while being infuriating, especially for... Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by Edward Roberts
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