Book review: The Creative Habit


Whether from laziness, lack of inspiration or the youthful conditioning that made me the cheapskate I am today, it's rare that I will mark up a book.

Unless the book is choreographer Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit and you are me over the past two weeks. If my first pass was any indication, I'm going to need to bust out the box of 64 for subsequent reads. Of which there will be many. Many.

It would almost be disrespectful not to mark up a book like this: a staggeringly juicy and well-crafted manual/bible/first aid kit, bursting with tools and inspiration for creative types, served up in every possible way to serve every possible style of learner.

There are concepts, laid out clearly and logically and in an order that makes perfect sense, and that would be a jumble of chaos in the hands of lesser wranglers*.

There are stories to illuminate and illustrate the concepts, both from Tharp's career and those of the great artistic legends of our time and beyond.

There are pictures, there are (praise be!) lists, there are pull-quotes.

And there are exercises, 32 glorious, immediately executable exercises, that I guarantee you will be all over like white on rice.

One minor quibble? The bulk of the book is rather unfortunately set in Bodoni, a lovely title case, but a bit hard on the eyes as a text case**. On the other hand, it slows you down, which is probably a good thing: I quite often found myself racing through parts, my greedy brain screaming for more, and faster. This is a book to be devoured and savored, and marked up, and discussed, and grabbed for in moments of creative crisis. Of which...well, you know.

Honestly, I don't care who you buy this from. But buy it. It's not a loaner. Not unless you have an extremely understanding librarian.

And then, when you get it, don't put it on your "to read" stack: put your ass in the chair, get a big, old writing implement and commence to reading***.

You can write and thank me later...


Image by laffy4K via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

*The author credits go to Tharp and Mark Reiter, Tharp's literary agent and a frickity-frackin' Renaissance one at that, he's collaborated on eleven other books! That's the kind of agent I want, dammit.

**Merlin likened it to "reading a 250-page poster for a freshman poetry series." Maybe unkindly, but brother, it's the truth.

***Thank you, Julien. You were 100% right, and I totally owe you a beverage of choice.