Day 75: The Creative Habit

I looooove musical theater. And when I got to Junior High, I signed up for choir IMMEDIATELY. It was the first thing I did. Not being naturally gifted in music, I slowly clawed my way to the top choir by ninth grade. Then I started over in High School. I came in at the bottom choir and watched as others who actually understood key signatures and the circle of fifths shot up to the top choir with no problem. Meanwhile I spent tons of time trying to understand music theory and sing with better pitch so that by my senior year, I had climbed the very steep climb to the top choir.

The other night I watched Murder on the Orient Express where this little exchange happened:

Hercule Poirot: You are a dancer, like your husband?

Countess Elena Andrenyi: No. Not like my husband… He is touched by angels, I’ve been shoved by passion and hard work to become adequate.

Passion and hard work, the story of my choir life.

And also the story of my photography life.

It was soon after I graduated high school that my mother recommended I read The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, who teaches that Creativity and Talent aren’t God given, they are earned through hard work and passion. Needless to say, this book spoke to my heart.

If you’re not familiar with Tywla Tharp, she is one of the world’s best choreographers. Since the 60’s, she’s choreographed over a hundred performances and is famous beyond words in the dance world. I love that this woman decided that it was worth telling the world that she wasn’t gifted by God, rather she is the product of dedication, good habits, passion, and hard work.

In her book, she shares her own habits and outlines creative exercises to help get your brain in “Creative mode”.  I hope that if you’re struggling with the mind set of “Everyone else is storming their path with their crazy talent while I’m stuck behind and struggling”, I totally encourage you to read this book! Leaving you with some of my favorite quotes and I’ll see you tomorrow!

“Without passion, all the skill in the world won’t lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life.”

“Immerse yourself in the details of the work. Commit yourself to mastering every aspect. At the same time, step back to see if the work scans, if it’s intelligible to an unwashed audience. Don’t get so involved that you lose what you’re trying to say.”

“Confidence is a trait that has to be earned honestly and refreshed constantly; you have to work as hard to protect your skills as you did to develop them… The one thing that creative souls around the world have in common is that they all have to practice to maintain their skills. Art is a vast democracy of habit.”

Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the 100 days. To submit a question, please click here!  If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris