I first read this book a few years ago while I was in second year of my BA. At the time I was still uncertain of the path ahead and this book, which focuses on how to set up useful strategies for maintaining your creative drive, helped me to see that creativity is not an elusive bolt of lightning, but something that must be worked at, a skill that if you don't practise, it will be lost. Here I am three years down the line, grappling with issues in my making practice, and her words are relevant again. I can see that by building in some elements of routine, by going back to basics and re-training myself in some ways, the ideas will return, the creativity will start to flow again. But most importantly, her words remind me that I am not alone. That creative people experience all sorts of states of creativity, from the euphoric states of flow, where everything just works, to the soul-destroying lows of feeling blocked, when it seems that ideas may never return. They are all natural elements of the process.
Twyla Tharp is an American choreographer with a career that has spanned over 50 years and has seen her working with many of the great names in dance, musical theatre and music. Her approach to her work is no-nonsense, intensely driven and un-apologetic; traits I wish I could cultivate, and find completely inspiring. This book is filled with practical exercises, some I rather enjoyed (especially the ones that involved physical movement) while others didn't resonate with me. But that is ok, too. Creativity isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of deal - your creativity is not like mine - but it's always interesting to hear what tricks or habits another creative person uses to help them keep going or to get back on track, especially someone who has built a lifetime's career on them.
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp (published by Simon & Schuster Paperbacks)