I'm reading an excellent book by Twyla Tharp. It's called "The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life." I'd only read two pages when I suddenly grabbed a pen and jotted down quote after quote. This book speaks to me. I get it. And it's based around a truth I find incredibly comforting. Creativity depends on hard work.
Photo by gracewong
For those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Tharp, she's one of America's greatest choreographers and dancers. This woman knows, lives, and breathes creativity, and I feel blessed she chose to share her thoughts on the creative process.
One of my favorite quotes: "It's vital to establish some rituals--automatic but decisive patterns of behavior--at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way."
She asserts that artists must stay in shape with regular workouts. Writers must write regularly. Dancers must dance regularly. Painters must paint regularly. But she takes it a step further and says that we must also make it easier by ritualizing the process. It might be one small thing you do, such as getting a cup of coffee before you sit at your computer, but it alerts the brain that it's go-time.
A day or two off can make you rusty and can easily turn into a week or a month. She admits you're not always going to be in the mood to create. That's why training ourselves to automatically start is vital to the creative process. We can't rely on willpower alone.
"Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn't scare you, doesn't shut you down... To get the creative habit, you need a working environment that's habit-forming."
What do you think? Are you surprised to learn that our most celebrated and talented artists wrestle with their muses too? That only by their dedication and devotion to their art do they leap ahead?
Join me on Friday to share our aspirations for 2010.