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"The Creative Habit" & answering "Why?"

May. 14th, 2009 | 12:06 pm
music: Ametsub - Lichen with Piano | Powered by Last.fm

You know that annoying little kid that endlessly asks the question "why?" in succession... partially for curiosity and partially just to test the limits of a parent to see when they will give up from boredom, frustration, or exhaustion? There were a few times growing up when I pulled that on my dad and somewhere that little kid still exists. (I think I had an epic run for "Why is the sky blue?" where he finally caved in after 15-20 rounds)

There are truisms in life that sound completely cliche, but can never be repeated enough. Be kind to others, read books, travel, eat well, etc... these are all common themes that show up again and again, but without a strong answer to "why?" the full import of their meaning never seems to take hold. It's just another factoid, devoid of any real meaning or application to my life. Sometimes though you get an excellent answer to why in the form of life experience or from reading a book. Here are some examples of books that resonated for me in this way:

-- Why is it important to be organized? Getting Things Done
-- Why are exercise and getting enough sleep good things to do? Brain Rules
-- What makes the scientific method so amazing? Demon Haunted World
-- Why do people who pursue their passions seem so attractive? The Way of the Superior Man
-- Why is watching too much TV bad for you? Amusing Ourselves to Death

Here's another question.... "Why are focus, hard work, and dedication to a craft important?" Everyone can answer this at a high level, but until I heard a convincing argument as to why these things are necessary, it never really sunk in. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp is the explanation I didn't even know I was looking for and it has completely inspired me.

If you have any kind of creative outlet, whether it be for work or as a hobby, I implore you to read this book. Aside from being inspirational, it's also practical with specific activities and examples to get you out of a rut and to focus in on what's most important to you. Even though her background is in dance and choreography, her words apply to any creative discipline you can think of.

I've been asking myself "what do I want to do next with my life?" a lot recently and this book has given me the clarity I was looking for. Thank you Twyla for sharing your gift and letting us look behind the curtain at your creative process. I will go back and watch Amadeus* now with fresh eyes and can't wait to watch a dance performance with all your perspectives and passions for dance in my head.

video caption: "This is an impromptu dance created and directed by Twyla Tharp. Joining her is a complete amateur Andy Plesser, a 55-year old with no formal dance background but considerable enthusiasm. This was part of a taping session of several interviews about dance, video, creativity and the Internet done for Beet.TV, a videoblog about the online video revolution and its implications for business and society. The interviews can be found here"
*Twyla did all the choreography. I haven't watched this since I was a little kid... curious to see how it will hold up against my memory and the vividness of Blu-Ray.
(and props to Merlin Mann for giving it such a hearty endorsement)

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