What makes someone creative? How does one face that empty page or empty stage and create something where nothing existed before? These are critical questions every artist grapples with daily. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or creative person per se, each one of us faces similar dilemmas on a daily basis. What will I cook that is fresh and appetizing? How will I make my presentation the best it can be and lock that lucrative deal? How can I make my e-mails more persuasive? These too are creative pursuits, and they all require creative output.

Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest dance choreographers, with more than 130 dances produced by her own company, as well as The Joffrey Ballet, the New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, London’s Royal Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre, says creativity is no mystery; it's the product of hard work and preparation, of knowing one's aims and one's subject, of learning from approaches taken in the past. It's a process undertaken every day. It's a habit. “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits.  That’s it in a nutshell,” she says.

While Tharp’s assertion may at first seem counterintuitive in the context of the Eureka! myth and our notion of the genius suddenly struck by a brilliant idea, she demonstrates her point with powerful illustrations (drawn from the Bible, Dostoyevsky, Mozart, Beethoven and many other greats of the Western Canon) that the struggle to be creative is nothing new, and that great artists have fought the same battles as anyone who strives to create. She even discloses her own five biggest fears, shows us how she combats them and gives us a recipe for getting out of a creative rut in this must-read book for artists and the creative at heart.       

The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life is not merely a look inside the life of a remarkable woman with remarkable skills, but a practical, inspiring and encouraging guide to help each of us hone our craft, cultivate our genius and overcome our fears in order to achieve our fullest creative potential. It provides 32 practical exercises based on the lessons Tharp has learned in her outstanding 35-year career, and this is how Tharp's book becomes more than just a pep talk for creativity.


Tione M Trice