Book Review: The Creative Habit

– written by Hearth Ember, Amy Beth Harrison

book-club-january-2016A great teacher is able to inspire not just those who think and act similarly to themselves, but those who act completely differently. That’s what I keep thinking while reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Of the authors of the best books I’ve read on creative habits (Steal Like an Artist, The Artist’s Way), Tharp has had the most successful career (as a choreographer). She’s played on the big stage and to do so she’s given her life to her art in a way I don’t foresee myself doing anytime soon.

However, she’s not only addressing those who are wildly successful or have the same personality as she does. Her generous teacher side is willing to give advice to you even if you are not an artist and just want to be more creative at work. I noticed this especially when looking through one of her first exercises, “Your Creative Autobiography.” Her questions inspired me to write very long and reflective thoughts though her own answers were short and punchy. Her questions led for me where her answers could not. Her ability to separate herself as a creative habits teacher from her own career and personality, while still drawing on these for inspiration, is what makes the book so profoundly useful.

I also have been inspired by her accounts of her failures, near failures, and misses. For all the talk these days about mistakes being necessary for growth, seeing examples of them are often rare. Tharp is very open about her mistakes and also how she learned from them. These include a Broadway show that opened to bad reviews in Chicago and an uninspiring performance with one of the best dance companies and unlimited resources.

january-book-clubA few questions to think about as you read this book that will aid in our discussion:

  • Which of the techniques she describes most resonates with you?
  • What happens when you make a big mistake professionally?
  • How have you learned to be yourself creatively? (Tharp talks a lot about not being a storyteller in her dances and how coming to terms with this has been important to her.)

Don’t for get to try out an exercise in the book and let us know what you thought about it.

See you on the 25th!


The Hearth Book Club meets the fourth Wednesday of every month from 7:00-8:30 pm at Arts at the Armory.  Check our book club list to see what we’re reading next!

Don’t have time to read an entire book each month?  Join us for Hearth to Hearth: An Article Discussion Group on Second Wednesdays at 8:00 pm!

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