Day 333 Risk: Begin The Creative Habit

Twyla Tharp has built a career out of being creative. About ten years ago she compiled all the knowledge she has gained over thirty-five years of creative work into a book called The Creative Habit. The basic premise is that artists need to create habits to prepare themselves to work and get through creative deserts, the idea being that creativity is not “a gift from the gods” but a daily practice. In her experience, daily habits into your creative self will naturally produce a creative life.

As a writer I struggle with the concept of enough time. Hell, I struggle with that as a person. There is never enough time in the day, days in the month, months in the year. Lately I can see it’s a product of overbooking myself, filling up every corner of my life as though I’ll lose that time if I don’t use it wisely. Essentially, I’m in a cyclical state of overwork. And when I’m overworked, I stop journalling.

For me, journalling is about putting down the crap no one will ever see, the shitty and complaining muck, the brilliant and magical gems, the who really gives a damn what it’s like because it’s just for me kind of writing. I know it’s vital to my creative and personal life, but it’s the first thing to go when extra time dwindles into non-existence. I’ve tried, fruitlessly, to create a daily ritual to avoid this, but wanting to sleep in or changes in my schedule or any other number of excuses has caused me to pull the covers tight and go back to sleep on my writing.

My friend recommended The Creative Habit to me and after reading the first few paragraphs, I understood why:

“After so many years, I’ve learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns. That’s why writers, for example, like to establish routines for themselves…They might set a goal for themselves–write fifteen hundred words, or stay at their desk until noon–but the real secret is that they do it every day. In other words, they are disciplined.”

This hit me hard; discipline has always eluded me. But I’m beginning to see it’s the key to me moving forward in my writing and in my life. So I took the risk of trying, once again, to begin a daily writing routine, with the risk being that I will fail as I have so many times before.

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8 thoughts on “Day 333 Risk: Begin The Creative Habit

  1. Yay! I’m so glad you’re doing this. I LOVE this book and have found it so helpful. I never understood the real importance of discipline until I started working on “The Creative Habit.” Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you.

    • Also, I really love this paragraph:

      “For me, journalling is about putting down the crap no one will ever see, the shitty and complaining muck, the brilliant and magical gems, the who really gives a damn what it’s like because it’s just for me kind of writing. I know it’s vital to my creative and personal life, but it’s the first thing to go when extra time dwindles into non-existence. I’ve tried, fruitlessly, to create a daily ritual to avoid this, but wanting to sleep in or changes in my schedule or any other number of excuses has caused me to pull the covers tight and go back to sleep on my writing.”

      Beautiful writing.

  2. Remember how you read in the car, waiting at the doctors, waiting at sporting events, etc eventually the book was finished…your thoughts don’t have to written all at once, just like the rocks the other day, chip a little off at a time and the end result will be like nothing else

    • True. Too bad the train is usual so packed that I’m just trying to get to my destination without spilling all of my belongings on the floor and stepping on anyone’s toes; doesn’t leave much room to pull out a pen and paper and jot down ideas. But, still, a good point.

  3. I really appreciate this post! I have always felt that time is chasing me, and despite the fact that (for some unknown reason) I endured eight years of college to get a journalism degree, discipline is not a strong suit for me. I manage to fit creativity into my schedule here and there. My problem, though, is feeling like my little creative outlets are not quite productive enough. You said it, “For me, journalling is about putting down the crap no one will ever see, the shitty and complaining muck, the brilliant and magical gems, the who really gives a damn what it’s like because it’s just for me kind of writing”.
    This type of journaling is as far as my writing has really gone and I constantly tell myself that it’s not enough. This is one reason I started my little baby blog, but I’m still just kind of doing the same bit with it. Anyhow, thanks for a blog I can relate to.

    • Getting into a habit is incredibly difficult, even when you do have the time. I’ve been discussing this idea with other writers lately and I’m beginning to see that timelines are wonderful to set, but sometimes life gets in the way. And sometimes we have to let it. That concept is such a struggle for me to accept, and then to not be too hard on myself. But I’m slowly learning.
      I’m glad you could relate! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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