Creativity, Creativity & Creativity: A Review of The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

At the beginning of January I decided to choose two words to help guide my year. Why two? Mostly because I couldn’t decide on just one. But since January, I hadn’t really thought much about either word. Until I started reading

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp | Book Review by The 1000th Voice

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it For Life
By Twyla Tharp

What are my words? Creativity and Intentional. Creativity is something I need (and well pretty much everyone needs) in their professional and personal lives. By continuing to hone my creativity, I’ll reap great rewards in my personal and professional lives. Intentional is a bit more abstract. I just want to take more time to focus on being intentional with my actions.


Creativity as a habit is a foreign concept to the common portrayal of creatives in TV shows, movies and more. Generally we see a creative person who’s wild and unpredictable. But Tharp presents a different view, one in which the creative person is driven by habit, following an established daily routine and approaching projects in a similar way. This approach was new to me. I’ve often thought that I need to set up a daily routine, so that I can squeeze in time to write and pursue other creative endeavors. I’ve never considered that it would help make me more creative.

No one starts a creative endeavor without a certain amount of fear; the key is to learn how to keep free-floating fears from paralyzing you before you’ve begun. (page 22)

Throughout the book, Tharp presents a lot of great ways to help maximize creativity. For example, to get out of a creative rut, Tharp recommends challenging assumptions by identifying the concept that isn’t working, write down your assumptions about it, challenge those assumptions and act on the challenge.

When creativity has become your habit; when you’ve learned to manage time, resources, expectations, and the demands of others; when you understand the value and place of validation, continuity and purity of purpose–then you’re on the way to an artist’s ultimate goal: the achievement of mastery. (page 240)


Writing 4 out of 5 stars

Tharp’s writing was strong.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

Tharp doesn’t just tell people how to be creative. She shows them by sharing stories about her own creative pursuits–the ups and the downs, successes and failures.

Cultural Impact 4 out of 5 stars

Tharp’s book is commonly mentioned when talking about creatives doing their thing. There’s a reason for that. She has a long history of successful creative pursuits.

TOTAL 4.33 out of 5 stars

Have you read Tharp’s book? What did you think? What’s your favorite book about creativity?

Weekly Reads: 3.10.2014

I’m trying to focus a little on creativity this year. This book has been on my to read shelf on Goodreads for years. I’m glad I’m finally reading it!

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp | Weekly Reads at The 1000th Voice

The Creative Habit
By Twyla Tharp

Last Week

Perspective Shifting: A Review of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I’ve Got Your Oscar Fashion Right Here

What are you reading this week?

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Book Discussion: The Accidental Creative

Book Discussion: The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry | The 1000th Voice BlogThe Accidental Creative:
How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice
By Todd Henry

When I mentioned in three It’s Monday! What I’m Reading! posts that I was (slowly) reading a book about being accidentally creative, several commenters echoed my own thoughts when they said they would benefit from learning how to be creative at a moment’s notice. Todd Henry knew that, and wrote a good book to help everyone be as brilliant as possible. The book provides a lot of ideas and suggestions to maximize creativity. While I wish there could be a magic formula (a pinch of this and a dash of that), being creative takes effort. Some people can just ooze creativity (or an odd brand of weirdness), but for others it seems to be more of a struggle.

Henry’s approach to being spontaneously creative can be separated into three categories: Preparing for Creativity, Harnessing Creativity and Recognizing Threats to Your Creativity.

Preparing for Creativity

The most prominent way in which someone can learn to become accidentally creative is to prepare for brilliant moments of insight. This basic premise is born out of the idea that, “If you want to deliver the right idea at the right moment, you must begin the process far upstream from when you need that idea.” (p 9) Henry recommends that everyday includes quality stimuli. In my post on finding inspiration, I shared a similar concept. I try to regularly read websites, magazines and blogs that inspire and/or inform me. I may not always take away something that I believe is important from each article or post, but over time, I’ve come to realize that the information and ideas I’ve stored away (in the back of my mind, in my notebooks or on Pinterest) has come forward to benefit me when I’m trying to think of solutions or articulate ideas. This is really the Minute Maid of ideas to promote your creativity.

The Minute Maid of Recs | Put Good In, Get Good Out | Book Review of The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry | The 1000th Voice BlogVia

The second way to prepare for creativity is to be purposeful about what you do and how you approach the creative process. Henry recommends planning out your life by considering the projects, plans and goals you have by focusing on the coming day, week, month, quarter and year. “Whole-life planning recognizes that your creative process is the result of the merging of all your experiences and passions.” (p 96) I think the idea of clustering, or intelligent adjacency, is also a way to be purposeful about your work. Basically, clustering is doing similar tasks next to each other without interruptions. Like most efficiency experts, Henry recommends limiting phone calls and e-mails to specific times of the day. The benefits of clustering include limiting focus shifts, experiencing unexpected breakthroughs and improving flow. 

Take Notes! | Book Review of The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry | The 1000th Voice BlogFinally, Henry recommends note taking. Obviously, I’m a big fan of taking notes. I’m never quite sure what I’ll remember later or what will be important later. Throughout history, thought leaders, movers and shakers have taken voracious notes. In fact, John Adams, who was an especially prolific note taker, took many notes in his book. “[John] Adams was not taking notes the way that many of us have been taught…Rather, he was recording his own thoughts and reactions to the claims of the author. He treated books as a conversation rather than a monologue.” (p 112)

Harnessing Creativity

How do you harness those insights and all that creativity you’re supposed to glean from notes and the like? Henry recommends establishing a rhythm to your work that manages “the pressures and expectations you face each day.” (p 122) Henry continues that, “When you begin to treat idea generation as a rhythmic practice, you begin to experience growth in your ability to generate ideas when you need them.” (p 125)

Recognizing Threats to Your Creativity

Now that you’ve spent all of that time preparing for and harnessing your creativity, you need to learn to recognize threats to that creativity.

While it’s not a magic formula, Henry did share a formula to achieving creative brilliance:

Math Formula for Creativity | Book Review of The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry | The 1000th Voice BlogTo maintain a certain level of work, you must remember to stay healthy. Do what you need to do to stay healthy–exercise, eat healthy, etc. Use routines to maintain your prolific nature.

Henry believes there are three assassins to the creative process: dissonance, fear and expectation escalation.

Dissonance is a disagreement or incongruity. The human mind craves resolution of unresolved things and patterns. One of the main functions of creative thought is the resolution of this dissonance; however, if out of control, it can be a threat to your creativity.

People fear plenty of things: success, failure, cats, dogs. As Henry states, “A lifetime of mediocrity is a high price to pay for safety. Paranoia undoes greatness.” (p47)

Finally, expectation escalation is a threat. Once you’ve done something great, the expectations continue to rise. Sometimes that escalation can lead to the inability to be creative.


Writing 4 out of 5 stars
The writing in this book was strong. Henry clearly made his points and backed them up with knowledge gained as a consultant.

Topic Knowledge 4 out of 5 stars
As I mentioned, Henry is a creativity consultant, so he does have a lot of knowledge on this topic, including an understanding of how to teach people to be creative.

Research 3.5 out of 5 stars
This book didn’t really require formal research because of Henry’s vast knowledge on the topic.

Cultural/Personal Impact 3.5 out of 5 stars
I didn’t read a lot of new information, so the personal impact is a bit limited for me. Affirming my understanding, though, does count for something for me and validates the time I spend reading a LOT of books and articles online. If this doesn’t validate your blog/Twitter/Digg/Stumple Upon/Whatever content habit you have, then I don’t know what will.

Organization/Presentation of Information 5 out of 5 stars
The information is presented in an organized, easy-to-follow fashion. I hate when a nonfiction book jumps around and doesn’t present the information is a logical way. Flashbacks and flashforwards are for fiction; they have NO place in nonfiction. (I have to emphasize this because I don’t think some people understand.)

Total 4 out of 5 stars

Overall, I found this book helpful, but mostly as an affirmation of what I already believed about being creative. 

What do you think about the suggestions Henry made? Do you have a content reading habit like mine? 

To read more of my thoughts, follow me on Twitter. For more book reviews, books I’ve read and books I want to read, find me on Goodreads. Don’t forget to check out my Pinterest to see all the craft and home decor projects I’ll probably never do and some cool book and social media pins. And of course, If you like what I have to say, like or follow my blog through e-mail. Sign up is on the right!

It’s Monday! What I’m Reading!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
Check out my previous Monday reading posts here.

My week will begin with the last 20-or-so pages of


Obviously social media is huge, but it’s going to be a big part of my new job. I’ll be reading a lot more like this throughout the year.

Later in the week, I’ll be switching back and forth between these two books

AccidentalCreativeBookGraphicShe Walks In Beauty

What are you reading this week? Have to read any good books on creativity, social media or poetry?

To see more books I’ve read, am reading or plan to read, check me out onGoodreads.

Inspiration Abounds

Within the last year I realized I wasn’t as creative as I once was (or at least as creative as I once thought I was). My life has changed a lot in the past five years, and while that’s been a good thing, it’s definitely had a huge impact on my creativity. Not being creative has been a struggle for me, and I haven’t felt like myself. I haven’t felt like I could solve problems as effectively as I used to. And I was missing the stress relief creative endeavors provided me. About six months ago, I was ready to change this. So, I took some time to think about what I can do to feel inspired.

I read a variety of things that inspire me in many ways. A sentence, a word, an impression can all inspire creative ideas and solutions. I read some materials regularly because I often find something thought-provoking or inspiring. I enjoy The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, NPR and Vanity Fair. If I don’t find inspiration in any of these, I’ve at least enjoyed some quality reading time and probably learned a little something.


Whether it’s a beautiful sight or just the relaxing walk, I find nature to be a great source of inspiration.

People, places and scenery can all inspire me, too. A look, a color, a texture: it all inspires me. For this reason, I love being in nature. I enjoy camping, hiking and boating.

To absorb inspiration from what I read, see and experience, I need to be open to inspiration. Being open to inspiration doesn’t mean I’m on the hunt for it. It means my mind and body are relaxed, and I’m fully immersed in what I’m doing. If I’m reading an article in Vanity Fair, I’m relaxed and involved in the article, absorbing its content. If I come across something that inspires me, I take a moment to think about it and even write my thoughts down. (I keep a notebook handy for these occasions.)

Reading, thinking and being open to inspiration has proven very successful for me. But, if for some reason, it doesn’t work there’s always Pinterest. I can spend hours there and feel super creative!