One of the creative habits I’m reinstituting is waking up early each morning as the sun rises and reading in the yellow, cheerful sunroom of my home. I used to do this each workday morning, but somehow I allowed myself to get away from it. Too bad, because now I remember how the act of reading great books on leadership, creativity, or purpose would energize me for the day ahead. Right now, that’s more important than ever.
I’m reading Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit, for the second time (my first read was through a copy from the library, but I recently bought it and now get to scribble notes throughout). It’s billed as a practical guide, which it truly is. She offers plenty of wonderful exercises to help stir the creative juices. One such exercise that I spent some time reflecting on today is a questionnaire she calls Your Creative Autobiography. Here are some of the questions she asks (there are 33 in all):
- What are your [creative] habits? What patterns do you repeat?
- What is your creative ambition?
- What are the obstacles to this ambition?
- What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?
- Who is your muse?
Challenging stuff. For a long time, I didn’t think I was terribly creative. Growing up, I was complimented on my creativity; I liked to sketch, build, create little scenes as only a child can. It was all driven by an innate curiosity of how the world worked. Then I hit adolescence and I tried to cram all of this creativity stuff in a plain box and deny my own creative spirit. Yet, it was always there smoldering, ready to reignite. Thankfully, I’ve rediscovered those traits that make me unique. I like this quote from Twyla:
Each of us is hard-wired a certain way. And that hard-wiring insinuates itself into our work. That’s not a bad thing. Actually, it’s what the world expects from you. We want our artists to take the mundane materials of our lives, run it through their imaginations, and surprise us. (italics added)
Each of us who are passionate about what we do are artists. So what are you hard-wired to do? What kind of creative surprises can you create today?