I’ve always been intrigued to read this book since Merlin Mann championed it over a year ago on 43folders. I’m glad I finally got to it because this book is truly a gem. Unless you skim it passively, there’s no way you won’t get something out of this book. Tharp insightfully demystifies the creative process, showing that it’s mostly a matter of discipline and hard work. She writes about the importance of rituals and routines, or how to prepare to create. To me, this is the key thing in the book and creativity for that matter. You have to find a way to trick yourself to make it habitual. It’s difficult to form habits because we can’t help thinking about the end result, but the focus should always be to start. After that, you can worry all you want about how to end something.
There’s a lot of dance talk throughout the book, but not as much as to overwhelm. Plus Tharp is so well versed in other creative fields that it never reads as creativity through the eyes of a choreographer, but as someone with a deep knowledge of the creative process who could be in any creative field she wanted. Her enthusiastic appreciation of Beethoven for example was contagious. I’m lowbrow, but she made me “last.fm’d” Bach and Wolfgang.
The book is practical and insightful with elegant typography. With exception of the last chapter, all chapters have an exercise section that’s enough to be worth the price of admission. It’s superbly well written by a smart and classy lady.