Book Club: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Our book club selection for the second quarter of 2009 is The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, the nationally renowned choreographer who grew up in San Bernardino. Here are the discussion questions for those who have read this book.

Chapter 1- On page 9, Tharp writes, "No one can give you your subject matter, your creative content; if they could, it would be their creation and not yours. But there's a process that generates creativity--and you can learn it. And you can make it habitual." What are some creative habits you learned about that you could use? Do you have any creative habits that you already use?

Chapter 2-On page 20, Tharp writes, " what rituals of preparation give us: they arm us with confidence and self-relaince." How do you prepare to create your art? Do you have any rituals you use? Do you agree or disagree that rituals are important?

Chapter 3-Which do you think characterizes you better: zoe or bios? What are some of the things that shape your creative DNA?

Chapter 4- On page 64, Tharp writes, "Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing now with what we have experienced before." How can understanding your memory and thinking about the past and how it relates to the present help you be more creative? Finish this sentence: Something I am doing right now that is related to my past is ___________.

Chapter 5- How do you organize for your projects? Do you use a system like Tharp's box, or do you have any system at all? Do you think technology aids or hinders your organizational process for preparing for a project?

Chapter 6-on page 99, Tharp writes, "When you're in scratching mode, the tiniest microcell of an idea will get you going." What activities can you do to scratch? What projects do you have on hold that maybe need some scratching? Where can you scratch to revive those projects? How do you know when to scratch deeper and when to admit failure and give up on a particular project?

Chapter 7-On page 122 Tharp says, "It's tempting to try to rein in the unruliness of the creative process, especially at the start." On page 124, she writes, "Another trap is the belief that everything has to be perfect before you can take the next step." How can perfectionism kill a project? Describe something you made in which you went through the creative process to produce it. How did the project begin? How did you know you were ready to move on to the next step? How did you get over roadblocks in the creative process?

Chapter 8-How does a piece's spine help it? Can you think of a piece you have heard, watched, saw, or experienced lately that seemed to not have a spine?

Chapter 9-What is your skill set that you bring to your art? What have you done lately to improve your skill?

Chapter 10-What is the difference between a rut and a groove? How can you get out of a creative rut? What things have you tried that did not work well for you? How do you recognize a groove? How can you stay in a groove?

Chapter 11-On page 217, Tharp writes, "We lose sight of the fact that we weren't searching for a formula when we first did something great; we were in unexplored territory, following our instincts and passions wherever they might lead us. It's only when we look back that we see a path, and it's only there because we blazed it." How can losing your fear of failure help you in the creative process? What times have you reined in an interesting idea to make it more palatable to a person/group, and ended up with mediocre products?

Chapter 12- On what skills are you trying to achieve mastery? What can you do to keep running, pushing forward? Have you ever felt like you had developed a skill so well that you finally "arrived" as a "master?" What did it take to get to that point?

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