Review: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

I’m only beginning my creative writing career. I haven’t sold any writing, but I have been published here and there. Not to mention on my own site. Oops. I mentioned it.

I have, however, been a ‘creative’ for my entire life. Whether I was pretending to be Speed Racer and taking the Mach 5 to new speeds, playing “Lost Boys” with my best friend, Davy, as I played the smart boy and he played the strong one to get us out of a lava flow dangerously getting closer and closer, or drawing out a story for a graphic novel that I left unfinished, I’ve been ‘creating’ things my whole life.

In fact, I realized a few years ago, that I was even ‘creating’ my life.

When I was asked to extend a course in Creative Identity from one semester to a second semester at the New Design School, a graphic design school in Fayetteville, AR, I was conflicted on what direction to take. In the first course, I took the new students on an inward journey of creativity to see how they viewed themselves and the world to better communicate their commercial creative designs to come. So where could I take them in a second course?

Luckily, I’m surrounded with amazing people, including my lovely, talented, and amazing partner, Christi, who said, “Have you read Making Ideas Happen yet?” I’ll review this book in another article. But it led to the perfect foundation for the class. One aimed at teaching action.

But it was missing an element.

I went through two or three other books and finally landed on Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life.

While Twyla Tharp is a dancer, her life is all about creativity. And in this book she breaks down all the aspects of living a creative life, the struggles, joys, and accidents along the way.

This book brought the soul of the class to life.

The graphic design of the book also creates a vibrant, easy to read experience. But that’s a different kind of review.

I walk into a white room

The book begins…

I walk into a large white room. It’s a dance studio in midtown Manhattan. I’m wearing a sweatshirt, faded jeans, and Nike cross-trainers. The room is lined with eight-foot-high mirrors. There’s a boom box in the corner. The floor is clean, virtually spotless if you don’t count the thousands of skid marks and footprints left there by dancers rehearsing. Other than the mirrors, the boom box, the skid marks, and me, the room is empty.

As she shares her lifetime journey of dance, she takes you through stories of meeting with Billy Joel to pitch her broadway show idea Movin’ Out, through her failures, her successes, and gives you insights to how she and other creative lifestyles evolve and grow.

I was amazed at how easily her The Creative Habit book matched the content of Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky, over the 12 week class. Her views on how getting “An ‘A’ in Failure” lined up perfectly with how creative professionals shouldn’t get bogged down by failing, but take time to reflect on the internal and external forces and find the lessons to be better prepared in future endeavors.

Tapping into your “Creative DNA,” “Scratching” for ideas, and, my favorite chapter, “Before You Can Think out of the Box, You Have to Start with a Box.”

Again, the parallels with Making Ideas Happen were in alignment where the topic was all about how we all are much more creative when we have a smaller canvas to work on. For example, Tharp said to watch out for people that offer you all the resources you need, no direction, and no restrictions as they are setting you up to fail. But beyond that, Tharp describes her system for creating projects. She makes a box to put all her ideas into and then begins organizing everything into an order to move forward. This is nearly identical to the Action Method described in Belsky’s book.

Tharp also gives exercises to help those interested in building a habit of creativity at the end of every chapter. Some are simple introspective exercises. Others are more time consuming and require physical activity, from stomping your foot and shouting, “BEGIN!” to taking yourself on a trip of exploration.

This book is a MUST for those who have gone through the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, as it shows a real life example of someone who has implemented living a creative life by creating a real creative habit.

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You can find all three books on Amazon.com for well under retail.

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Photo Credit via http://www.twylatharp.org/: © Richard Avedon.

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Review: RED

I love a good action thriller with a little humor. I also really like watching Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and the stunning Mary-Louise Parker (from Weeds).

Since the movie comes from a DC Comic’s graphic novel, it’s no surprise that the action is a bit over the top, especially when it comes to guns and explosions. While there isn’t a lot of gore that has been prevalent in most movies of late, there is plenty of violent action scenes.

The premise is that several retired spies have been targeted for assasination and have to figure out who is doing this so they can stop them and live a quiet retirement. Or in the case of Bruce Willis’ character, Frank Moses, be free to begin a relationship with bored-with-her-life U.S. Pension fund employee, Sarah Ross, played by Mary-Louise Parker.

Throw up-and-coming CIA operative, William Cooper (Karl Urban), into the mix to try to stop the retired team, and you’ve got plot twist after plot twist until the finale.

Malkovich always plays interesting characters and his portrayal of paranoid ex-agent and government test subject, Marvin Boggs, is no exception.

A fun movie and great actors to watch, even with the excessive use of bullets.

RED
My rating: 7 out of 10

Review: Paranormal Activity 2

While it is well known I like zombie flicks, I also enjoy a suspensful horror movie.

Most people weren’t impressed with Paranormal Activity, but it did smashingly well at the box office. Because of this, Hollywood HAD to make a sequel.

I will confess I did not see it at the box office. Mostly because no one will go with me to cheesy horror flicks.

For those who missed the first one, why are you still reading??? (laugh)

More seasoned actors were used for this film than the first and the quality is much better. The scares are much the same and a little of the mythology of the paranormal activity is explained.

The action of the movie also takes place before the first film and the movie focuses on Paranormal Activity’s lead character’s sister’s family. Cameos from the actors in the first movie occur.

Without giving anything away, there are some nice creepy moments, loud bangs, and a few shocking scenes. All are easy to spot as the low bass rumble that occurs each time an ‘event’ begins. This does give you a nice heart rate increase just wondering what’s about to happen.

The plot is basically the same with a few twists, but if you are looking for a slight creepy sensation and feel like keeping a few lights on tonight, rent the movie.

Let me know what you think.

Paranormal Activity 2
My rating: 6 out of 10

*Photo Paramount Pictures

How Not to Start a Trend

I realize I may be one of the few to not watch the Super Bowl this year. And even the lure of the commercials didn’t get me to watch.

However, I did check in on Hulu.com a few minutes ago and catch up on the highest rated commercials this year.

And, to my suprise, was shocked and amazed at the commercial from GoDaddy.com. Not because of being risque or anything, not because Joan Rivers was in it. And not because of Joan’s amazing ‘make-over.’

No, my amazement was in the fact that GoDaddy has announced how COOL it is to become one of the first people to get your own ‘.co’ web address.

That’s no typo.

.co

In my 15 years of website development…all the way back to when you had to buy all domain names through Network Solutions…back when there were only three extensions the average person could buy (.com, .net, and .org)… I have never heard a professional suggest to a business owner to NOT try to get a .com extension.

Granted, the field is pretty full with most great domain names being taken.

But that’s the point!

If you’re going to buy a domain name with a .co, and the .com is already taken, guess where your customers are going to go? The .com site, of course.

Personally, as a Graphic Designer, I would take one look at that and assume someone did a shody job at proofreading.

Don’t fall into the trap and waste your money. If someone does buy your domain name with .co AND they do the exact same thing as you, you have legal legs to stand on. Call your attorney to find out exactly how.

Contact us at Blue Zoo Websites and we’ll help you find a domain name right for you.

http://www.bluezoowebsites.com

A Zombie Moment with Bacon

I’ve decided to start writing more random thoughts.

I actually spoke some random thoughts and actually got my amazing partner to throw out some of her own ideas.

I told her I would creatively write a short column about zombies and bacon.

She asked, “Like, zombies that eat bacon?” She got all excited and added, “Oh! What if they made collars for zombies made of bacon?”

I chided her and explained that zombies only ate live things, and anyone trying to put the collars on would be bitten…or worse.

She went back to her magazine, flipping the pages a little harder, “they could eat bacon.” she mumbled.

Hey, wait! This was supposed to be MY creative exercise!

damn.

The World Will NOT End in 2012

Contrary to popular belief…and I’m willing to go out on a limb about this…the world will NOT end in 2012 when the Mayan calendar ends.

But I repeat myself, and will again. THE WORLD WILL NOT END IN 2012!

“How can you be so certain, Eric? There are signs EVERYWHERE!” people gasp and stare at me like I’m a complete idiot.

Let me just say that I’ve lived through dozens of “end-of-the-world” scenarios. So have you. From Y2K to the rogue planet Nibiru’s supposed passing in 2003 to aliens coming to take us to their planet to the flurry of ‘end-of-days’ stories from religious texts.

There are no more floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, plagues, wars, etc. this year than say…oh…1918 when there was a global pandemic killing nearly 20 million people, a World War going on, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and more.

We just have better forms of communications today. A cartoon at XKCD.com shows that twittering was faster than the seismic waves of an earthquake. We hear and share everything we see and read about without verifying it’s authenticity. Snopes.com is a good place to check for crazy rumors, stories, emails, news, and photos like this.

With movies such as 2012 that show global disaster, many people believe everything written in the script. From solar flares, to polar shifts, and crustal displacement. Poor NASA was so overwhelmed with questions they made a special site to answer questions. If you have any, you might want to check it out as well.

To wrap up, we all will die. Worrying about it happening at some specific date takes the joy out of living today. And even if I am wrong…and I’m not…shouldn’t we all use the time given to make the most of our lives and the days amazing?

I Wake

I wrote this poem one day after staring at myself in the mirror thinking, “I have seen my face nearly every day of my life and it constantly changes.”

But trying to write about how your face changes throughout life seemed daunting. But waking up the next morning I realized that the world around us changes every day too. Sometimes very slightly, but always it changes.

Hope you enjoy.

I wake…
to bright lights and
unpleasant coldness that
gives way to the warmth of
my mother’s arms and my
father’s caress.
I sleep.

I wake…
to clattering dishes and
a diaper damp and soiled which
spreads as I climb the rail of
my crib and fall to the floor
and scream in fear.

I wake…
to jingling bells and
the smell of coffee and bacon which
wafts down the hall to my room
past the Christmas tree lights
and presents all for me.

I wake…
to gasping cries as
mom rocks my new sister who
is red faced and angry and
way too little to
play with me.

I wake…
to gentle nudges as
dad wakes me for my
first day of school which
fills my stomach with
butterflies.

I wake…
to quiet sniffing as
my dog, Happy, lets me know
it’s time to get up and
explore the world
together.

I wake…
to silent darkness and
build universes with my
blocks, cars, and toys as
my parents sleep in their
room unaware.

I wake…
with tired eyes and
see my best friend sleeping
next to me after talking
all night and imagining our
lives ahead.

I wake…
to bulging sheets and
wonder why girls seem
so much more interesting now
and how can I get one
to like me.

I wake…
to creaking floors and
know my dad is getting
ready for work upstairs
and will soon come to
say ‘good morning.’

I wake…
to constant yelling and
stumble out of bed to
shower, eat, and catch
the bus to make it to
junior high.

I wake…
to urgent questions and
get up to help my baby brother
create new worlds of his own
while trumpet tunes play
in my head.

I wake…
to tormented sadness and
wonder why I’ve been dumped for
some guy so uncaring and selfish
who ends up hurting the one I
cared so much for.

I wake…
to loud music and
hit ‘snooze’ to gain more sleep
after working a night shift,
playing music and seeing friends in
one of many weekends.

I wake…
to a tossed pillow from my college roommate
to get me to stop snoring
just as my alarm sounds to
tell me it’s time to get to
Calculus.

I wake…
to gentle caresses and
soft kisses of my girlfriend who
reminds me it’s time to sneak out
of the dorm and make the long trek
back to my own.

I wake…
to insistent ringing and
discover my grandfather has died and
forgo spring break to say goodbye and
support my mom with her
sadness.

I wake…
to clear skies and
a cold wind while my grandfather is
buried in a small box which is
stamped with the
tree of life.

I wake…
to frantic screams and
calm my bride down from
a lucid nightmare in which
I’ve left her cold and
alone.

I wake…
to giddy laughter and
my wife and I throw robes on
and join her huge family for a
Christmas event with kids from
1 to 92.

I wake…
to terrible news and
scream from the bottom of my soul
in anger and sadness that my
mother has passed on leaving
us without her.

I wake…
to pointy claws and
let the cat finish it’s kneading and
glance at the empty space in my bed
where my spouse used to
lay and dream.

I wake…
to clattering wheels of a garage door
and let my brother and his friend
harass me about sleeping in
my bed in our sister’s garage at
age thirty-four.

I wake…
to sheer exhaustion and
make it one more day of
working two jobs and taking
the responsibility of caring for
everyone else but myself.

I wake…
to creamy aroma and
find coffee brewing and
breakfast served with my
friend and roommate adding
hope and encouragement.

I wake…
to egyptian cotton and
a positive outlook as my
business grows, community expands and
relationships blossom creating
happiness unbounded.

I wake…
to timid questions and
let my love’s kids turn on
video games on a lazy
Saturday morning while
we snuggle up and sleep.

I wake…
to warm caresses and
a morning of lovemaking with
my sexy love who collapses and
smiles as her eyes close knowing
more adventure awaits.

I wake…
to gentle rain and
I ready myself for a holiday
with family, friends and dad who
shows up early and feel blessed
to have the time with them all.

I wake…
as an old man with inner contentment
and look back over my days to
see all the souls I have touched
and experiences I have had both
large and small.

I wake…
to a bright light.

I sleep.

______________________________________________________

Bonus verse for Buddhists and those who believe in reincarnation…

Think I’ll go again.

I wake…
to bright lights and unpleasant coldness that
gives way to the warmth of
my mother’s arms and my
father’s caress.
I sleep.