Nearly ten years ago, on first read, The Creative Habit made a significant impression on me. Like a meteor, falling through space, burning through the atmosphere, crashing without ceremony into my brain. A fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants winger by nature, I considered the value of preparation in everything I did, because Twyla said so. Taking this advice to heart and building a solid preparation process has improved my creative output immeasurably.
I also stopped categorizing the seemingly disparate interests of my life into "creative" and "non-creative," and I started to think about everything I did (not just sewing clothes and playing music, but also negotiating contracts, writing manuals, and speaking in front of audiences) as a creative endeavor. This time around, I recognize that seeing myself as an inherently creative individual whose work is all creative has helped me to (ironically? coincidentally? accidentally?) create a life that brings fulfillment and joy every day.
It was with fond memories and much reflection that I cracked open The Creative Habit on New Year's Day. Reading the chapters on preparation, and scratching, and failure were like visiting an old friend. And, as you'd expect, I found myself captivated by other sections that are more relevant and immediate now than they were 10 years ago.
Here are two brief lessons that I didn't catch then, that I experienced on my own between the two readings:
- "Overplanning can be as pernicious as not planning at all. There’s an emotional lie to overplaying; it creates a security blanket that lets you assume you have things under control, that you are further along than you really are, that you’re home free when you haven’t even walked out the door yet."
- "Whom the gods wish to destroy, they give unlimited resources."
I specifically chose this book as my first book of the new year because I am starting to obsess over the importance of daily rituals, and I remembered Twyla doing a bang-up job exploring ritual in The Creative Habit:
- "What makes it a ritual is they do it without questioning the need."
- "By making the start of the sequence automatic, they replace doubt and fear with comfort and routine."
We follow rituals every day by accident -- we didn't design them, just fell into them. We follow some rituals with alarming consistency and absence of conscious thought. Isn't that kind of outrageous? I'm asking myself if the rituals are helpful or hurtful, and if there are steps I can add to them that will make them helpful in some way. Rituals are a great way to form habits -- are my rituals encouraging the best habits for me right now?