My Notes on The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

the creative habit book review by twyla tharp

I started reading The Creative Habit because of Chase Jarvis recommendation. 

He wrote a blog post where he shared a list of 6 books that "will make you more creative". I chose The Creative Habit to read because the title was already a lesson! And when the title is a lesson, you know the rest of the book will be great!

Twyla Tharp, is a great American dance choreographer, that produced more than 130 dances.

Inside Creative Habit I learnt a lot about dance and Twyla experience with creating choreographies which I found really interesting.​

As you can imagine, creating choreographies requires constant creativity.

But what is creativity for Twyla?


“Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell.”
-Twyla Tharp

That’s it. Creativity is a combination of hard work and consistency. Without it, you can’t create as much great work as she did.

In The Creative Habit she also reinforces the importance of having rituals as a way of preparing herself to start creating.

"I begin each day of my life with a ritual: I wake up at 5:30 a.m., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go, I have completed the ritual."

The moment she asks the driver where to go is the moment her mind shifts its focus to start working and creating!

Creativity = Hard Work + Practise + Rituals

I’ve been thinking about this too, and I think the moment I shift my focus to work and create, is when I put my headphones to listen to an audiobook or podcast when I’m getting ready in the morning.

In my opinion, there’s nothing better to prepare myself for the day then to have a morning ritual.

The Creative Habit of having a BOX! 

I love her idea of having a box for each project she starts, where she puts important material that inspires her.

I think I’m going to adopt this idea for each new project that I work from now on! By putting inside the box: pictures, letters, books, objects, etc, that were a part of the project.

"Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.”
-Twyla Tharp

The Importance of People and Books

She believes that what we will be in 5 years depends on the people we meet and the books we read

"I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read."
-Twyla Tharp

I agree with her idea, and I think it also relates to Jim's opinion:

“We are the average of the 5 people we spend most time with.” 
-Jim Rohn

Should I Give up?

Here’s my favourite quote from the book:

“You only need one good reason to commit to an idea, not four hundred. But if you have four hundred reasons to say yes and one reason to say no, the answer is probably no.”
-Twyla Tharp

I also combine Twyla's quote with this idea: 

 “If it’s not a HELL YES, than it’s a no”.
-Derek Sivers

This is a great way to decide to pursuit something, or to simply not. When I start to feel anxious and irritated about doing something, it is probably time to stop doing it.

The Creative Habit of becoming more Creative

In the book, there are a lot of exercises that you can put into practise in order to become more creative. 

Even though this book isn’t focused on teaching you a specific method to be more creative, by learning more about the author’s life and experiences, you will get valuable life lessons to produce more great, creative and meaningful work.

The key to producing more creative work?

Hard work, consistency, routines and passion.

Skills Exercise 

Twyla recommends the exercise of writing all the skills you have. This can be difficult, but it's worth it. 

Let’s pretend you are a writer.

1. Write the most important skills to be a writer.

If I was a writer, I would probably think of something like this:

-Consistency (by writing every day);

-The ability to generate new ideas;



-Language skills;



-Research skills.

(All of the skills above, can be improved by practising them!)

Now, of all of the skills above, which ones do you have and you are already pretty good?

By doing this exercise, you will have a more clear vision of what are your skills.

And even better, you can now practise the ones you lack, and that are really important to be, in this case, a better writer.

You should definitely read The Creative Habit if you are interested in becoming more creative!

When you use your creativity, you create amazing things. When you train and exercise your creative muscle, you create amazing things, regularly.
-Filipa Canelas

If you want to read more about creativity, read this post: "The Creative Muscle - The Gym for Creative Minds."

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