Thursday, 20 January 2011

Creative Writing Books - The Creative Habit

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Twyla Tharp's 'The Creative Habit' has been hanging around on my bedside cabinet for nearly a year. (A year in Februay, because it was a birthday present!). I having been dipping in here and there, taking my time, absorbing the great advice. This isn't a how-to on writing but this book looks more at the creativity side.

Tharp is primarily a cheorgrapher and not a writer but her creativity habits can also relate to writing too. One of her ideas is to have a box for each project. In this box you put ideas for this project. It could be cards, posters, quotes, books, etc. I really like this idea but for me, especially as I'm downsizing to a small house in a few weeks, a box would be too big. So I am going to get myself some cardboard folders (or something similar - it depends on what seduces me at the stationery shop) and create an 'ideas' folder for an idea I have had in my head for a while. At the moment the idea is for a short story piece.

Tharp also talks about 'scratching' away a fragments of ideas, trying to tease out a solid idea. I have found this piece of advice particularly when I struggled with 'idea finding' at the end of last year. Tharp says, 'Remember this when you're struggling for a big idea. You're much better off scratching for a small one.' She talks about turning those scratchings into spines for the project. This will help inject speed and attention into the project. It's all about focusing on that idea and teasing it to its full potential.

Something I have now written in my notebook, in capitals, is ' WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?' I think it'll help me focus more on what lurks underneath the story.

Tharp also explores the 'ruts and grooves' that all creative people seem to suffer. Tharp's suggestion to get out of rut is '1. Identify the concept that isn't working. 2. Write down your assumption. 3. Challenge the assumptions. 4. Act on the challenge.' It's all about pushing yourself out of the rut and fighting back against the fear of ending up in writer's block.

Overall, the message of this book is how important it is to make creativity (in a variety of forms) a part of your routine in life. This book helps you look at your creative perspective and the ways you can build on those ideas. I am definitely going to harness those ideas more after reading this book and really sit down and explore them before racing ahead and writing a short story that eventually lands in the 'retired folder' on my Macbook.

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