I have just started reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life. Like those other classics Bird by Bird, Art and Fear, The Courage to Create and Still Writing it seems to be written entirely in quotes that send you straight to your notebook with your quivering quill. Resolutely practical, there is a list of suggested exercises at the end of each chapter.
The list at the end of Chapter 2 (Rituals of Preparation) includes: the injunction to ‘Give me one week without’. Tharp’s list includes mirrors, clocks, newspapers and speaking. Earlier in the chapter she has a brief riff on giving up movies, multitasking, numbers and background music. I love this, the art of what she calls ‘subtraction’.
Taking a leaf out of my own LentBlog series I am having another week off from newspapers, which for me means no more finger twitching in moments between emails or meetings to check up on The Guardian online for who has said something new in the last ten minutes about you-know-what. To this I am adding no radio or TV news. For a week. I think I can manage that. As Tharp says: ‘I don’t recommend this as a permanent diet; it eventually breeds ignorance.’
What could you give up for a week in order to kick-start your creativity?