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December 30, 2005

News & Opinion: Grab a box. Label it. Start a new project.

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:50 PM – Filed under: Innovation & Creativity

I really, really enjoy this book. It's an easy read and has a clean design. It's been around for a few years -- the hardcover was published back in 2003. The paperback is now available. The book: The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life (a practical guide) by Twyla Tharp.
She explains creativity to be a habit. It's not luck or something that just appears out of thin air.
This part in particular seemed to be relevant to the new year. With the annual creation of new year resolutions, we're all starting a few new projects and taking the first step towards the goals for 2006. This section of the bookt explains how Twyla starts new projects.
To commence a project, Twyla:
Starts with a file box. On the box, she writes the project name, then she fills it with items related to the project at hand.
For Twyla, the box makes her feel
  • Organized -- "that I have my act together even when I don't know where I'm going yet."
  • Committed -- "The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I've started work."
  • Connected -- "It is my soil., I feel this even when I've back-burnered a project: I may have put the box away on a shelf, but I know it's there. The project name on the box in bold black lettering is a constant reminder that I had an idea once and may come back to it very soon."
  • That the idea will be remembered -- "One of the biggest fears for a creative person is that some brilliant idea will get lost because you didn't write it down and put it in a safe place. I don't worry about that because I know where to find it. It's all in the box."

Why boxes? They are "easily acquired. Inexpensive. Perfectly functional. Portable. Identifiable. Disposable. Eternal enough."
The book is a great read, a good starting point for new projects and an excellent guide to creativity. It tells Twyla's stories while providing interaction with its various exercises and questions throughout the book.
Also, it's the book of the day on inBubbleWrap.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.