be good to your soul [the creative habit]

May 12, 2009

This post is part of an ongoing series of reflections on my reading of The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp.

There has been a slight gap between posts in The Creative Habit series. By slight, I mean 42 days, 4 hours and 48 minutes. Approximately. I didn’t intend it that way. But I suppose the gap helps illustrate the point Twyla Tharp makes here:

“There’s a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and repitition.”

My life has been out of rhythm for the last few weeks. (Okay, okay…about six weeks.) When rhythm lacks, so does creativity. There is less gumption to make things. And so I’m looking to restore lost habits.

But the point is not to create patterns and routines for the sake of habit. A routine of eating two slices of lightly toasted white bread with orange marmalade every morning is not going to make one creative. But maybe if you add a side of bacon…

Creativity is born out of a cultivated soul. It requires you to take time, to make time, for reflection and re-creation. Creativity happens when we are aware of what is happening within ourselves and alert to what is going on around us. As Tharp describes it, creativity is a matter of ongoing preparation:

This, to me, is the most interesting paradox of creativity: In order to be habitually creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative, but good planning alone won’t make your efforts successful; it’s only after you let go of your plans that you can breathe life into your efforts.

So today, I’m asking myself what does it mean to be good to my soul…to cultivate it as a place ideas are born eager to be expressed. It means making time for reflection, doing daily pages (as opposed to bi-weekly pages!), hacking out thoughts on an idea just to see where they go, or even stopping to smell the roses. Or the bacon.

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