Friday, August 9, 2013

Creative Ebb and Flow

I’ve been reading about the creative process lately. I just finished a book by Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit. Tharp is a world famous choreographer. I’ve seen many of her works. Some I like, some I don’t.

Same with her book. The first half of the book bored me silly. It seemed like nothing more than a self-congratulatory treatise. As the library due date for this book loomed, I started skimming the second half of the book. And I found some interesting tidbits.

Chapter 9, “Skill” echoed some of my own thoughts on the value of technique. I was struck by her ideas on the relationship of skill to confidence, which can be summed up in this quote, “Without skill, there is no confidence.”

Chapter 10, “Ruts and Grooves” was a good one. Her premise is that you don’t actually know you’re in a groove until you lose it. I don’t buy that. But I do appreciate some advice she has about ruts. Here’s what she suggested:

1.   Identify the concept that isn’t working.
2.   Write down your assumptions about it.
3.   Challenge the assumptions.
4.   Act on the challenge.

It is always a good exercise to try to identify underlying assumptions. When I was forced to do that in an academic setting, I really came to understand my own personal values. And I am often trying to do the same with my fiber arts. Identifying problems and your assumptions can really get you moving.

Tharp’s last sentences of that chapter were, “Exorcise the rut. Exercise the groove.” Funny. Memorable.

I’ve also been reading bits and pieces from Creative Something, a blog about the creative process by Tanner Christensen. I found it by way of Facebook, where I’ve read the occasional essay. A post today, “What You Should Work On Now”, is pertinent; it’s about procrastination and the challenge of choosing what to do. He wrote, “When your path is uncertain, focus on who you are.”

I think who you are has everything to do with your underlying assumptions.


  1. I just read "What You Should Work on Now". I swear this guy knows me. I often find myself wandering about wondering what to do next even though I have dozens of creative projects all going at once. Then there's the exhaustion. YUP!! That's me, and I haven't even accomplished anything. Which brings me up to this moment. I must - MUST - get down to my "studio" and get something - anything - done today. :D

    1. One nice thing about knitting is that I always have something I can work on.