Thursday May 13th, 2021

This Is a Good Book #4: Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit

“Doing is better than not doing, and if you do something badly you’ll learn to do it better.” (Twyla Tharp)

Especially in this country, we tend to believe in genius. That creativity is at least a rare talent. Innate or somehow genetically predisposed. Limited to a selected few.


…a certain amount of talent should be helpful in doing creative work. Apart from that, there is little truth in the myth of creative genius. Creativity, like so many things – sorry people – is simply: practicing and doing. In other words: work.

First and foremost, work on and with oneself. And habitually. That means regularly and always. At least that is what all reputable experts in this field say. So too Twyla Tharp, choreographer by profession.

There is no doubt

If you want to take creativity seriously, you will accept and consider it as part of your professional and/or private life. And bring corresponding habits into the day. Just what professionals do. Twyla Tharp explains in her book what this means:

  • How do you direct the creative process? What exactly matters?
  • How do you produce (good and bad) results?
  • What do you contribute to creativity with your own personality, your own abilities, your own character and history, and your own imprints?
  • What role do others or external circumstances also play in this?
  • How can you influence them?
  • How much should you influence it?

“This, to me, is the most interesting paradox of creativity: In order to be habitually creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative, but good planning alone won’t make your efforts successful: it’s only after you let go of your plans that you can breathe life into your efforts.” (Twyla Tharp)

Through many concise authentic examples…

…from her own creative work and with skillful, entertaining storytelling, Tharp opens the door to the tool chamber of her creative work. Through this, she imparts incredible theoretical, practical, and also concrete, workable basic knowledge.

Along the way, Twyla Tharp uses exercises to encourage readers to become aware of the contexts and to recognize their own “creative” roots.

All this is done playfully, in a chatty but at the same time very engaging tone. Thus, while reading, you find – almost casually – a creative structure yourself and begin to establish it (if you like). At least you come very very close to this step.

The goal of this creative journey, which – as usual in every good (!) process – is naturally marked by setbacks and mistakes: to finally realise your OWN creative roots, your OWN creative potential in the way you want and are able to.

You might also say: to do and be able to do what you want to do. As best as you can.

Twyla Tharp’s earnest, focussed manner…

… and her INCREDIBLE PROFESSIONAL approach to living creatures is very impressive and also inspiring. Especially because it becomes clear in every line that creativity is something that makes people, yes HUMAN beings.

So it is not only those readers who want or need to understand creativity as a profession (aren’t we all somehow?) who will benefit. These readers will find a huge inspiring collection of helpful tips and approaches here.

But also all those who “only” want to get things moving and create something, preferably together with others and preferably a bit more purposeful than before, will get orientation: How can you better realize your plans by creatively working on yourself? Twyla Tharp’s message:

To create in your own way is to live your personal freedom. Doing that and at the same time creating good and beautiful things together with others – that’s what it’s all about. 

An inspiring book for all those who want to understand how they can seriously (professionally) work and live creatively, i.e. more according to their nature and ideas, and who are looking for help and guidance to do so. Highly recommended!

“Habitually creative people are prepared to be lucky.” (Twyla Tharp)