I’m rereading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit in little snatches, standing in the kitchen or ducking into the bathroom. I rarely call myself an artist but I do love to make art. I piddle around with sketching and painting and writing stories that are hopefully more than just words on a page. I file away ideas in a folder that I’m not sure I’ll ever have time to open, but I keep cramming them in anyway.
In chapter four, she talks about using memory in creative work. She’s a dancer, a choreographer, so she discusses muscle memory. As an athlete, I understand muscle memory (also, I never call myself an athlete either so that felt weird). Your muscles learn to do certain motions and they perform just fine until you start thinking about it. Then you suddenly can’t remember what to do next.
She discusses how she used to stand behind great dancers and mimic their movements. She would learn how they danced and it improved her own dancing. She told how authors had become great writers after they spent hours copying the work of the masters. She spent hours pouring over photographs of famous dancers in the New York Public Library. When she was dancing or planning a performance and felt stuck, she could consider something they did and it would flow over into her own work.