The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life, by Twyla Tharp
“Some people find this moment—before creativity begins—so painful that they simply cannot deal with it. They get up and walk away from the computer, the canvas, the keyboard; they take a nap or go shopping or fix lunch or do chores around the house. They procrastinate. In its most extreme form, this terror totally paralyzes people.”
Reading this paragraph in the beginning of this book I just thought — yep, she gets it. What a lot of non-artists don’t understand, is that for a lot of creative people, the moment before you actually begin a project, a painting, a novel, can be absolutely terrifying. So scary in fact that it stops you from doing it all together. Paralyzes you.
I know this feeling intimately.
Maybe it’s hard to understand if you have no idea what I’m talking about, but when you are an artist creating work that stems from a deep passion inside you, you have an unexplainable urge to produce and create. The fear that holds artists back can be a multitude of things. Maybe the series they are working on is deeply emotional. Maybe the materials are really expensive and messing it up can be costly. Maybe it’s just a fear of putting their artwork into the world or seeing their vision on paper. Maybe they haven’t perfected the skill they need to create the work and it’s just depressing until they’ve mastered it. So many things can be a factor in this paralyzation for an artist. For many it’s a combination of things. Do you know what I’m talking about? Do you feel this way?
Lots of artists are rarely happy with their work (me). They always feel like it could be better (me again). Or by the time they finish a series they are already over it and on to the next in their head (yep). The term “tortured artist” in my mind, relates to all of these things and more. Most of them have to do with self doubt and that paralyzing fear that Tharp mentions.
If you are a creative person in any capacity, this is a very inspiring book and I highly recommend reading it. In the same vein of my last book review on How Artists Work, Tharp’s main topic in this book is all about rituals, routines, and habits.
She likens these creative habits to that of athletes — they warm up before they workout or play their game — why wouldn’t artists do the same? Continue reading…