A Creative Process Recipe, As Told By Twyla (…sort of)

You know how sometimes you just have to learn things the hard way? Or how you don’t know how important certain things/people/processes are until they’re gone? Yeah, that’s me. Especially with dance.

 

In graduate school I failed to learn the single most important lesson there was to learn. The program I attended was structured in a way that meant we always had deadlines to meet, there was always a problem to be solved or limitation to work around, we had to have a basis for what we were going to do and why we were going to do it, we were always assigned a mentor, and we were either in choreography class, dance class, or some sort of creative class every day. When I finally graduated and went to conquer the great unknown using the skills I had learned, I didn’t take the single most important tool I had built with me: process. Because it was the most obvious lesson to learn, I didn’t learn it. Ha.

I’ve been working my way through Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit over the past couple of months. Every chapter I have an “aha” moment. It’s less of a revelation aha and more of an “I get what she’s saying because I just learned that lesson the hard way last week/month/year” aha. Here I am, learning the hard way, again.

When I get stuck I find myself asking what I’m doing wrong instead of asking what I need to do to move forward. So, I’ve started asking what someone else would do right in the given situation. Right now, that someone else is Twyla and Twyla is doing everything right (at least in this theoretical world). So, don’t be me. Be Twyla. What Would Twyla Do?

  1. Twyla would. . .define a reason for making a work. What is your jumping off point?
  2. Twyla would. . .set a deadline, or several, to get this work finished.
  3. Twyla would. . .work on it in some capacity, every day.
  4. Twyla would. . .have many constraints or problems, planned or not. Limit your resources.
  5. Twyla would. . .talk to others about the work, seek mentorship and feedback at various points in the creation.*

*Disclaimer: Twyla is NOT endorsing this list and neither is her book. But I am. These are the hard lessons I have learned. Don’t be me. Don’t take 4 years to build your process again. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Reinvent a better wheel.

 

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