Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Serendipity Factor

It's a long way from Seattle to Sydney and I ended up spending a lot of time hanging around airports. So I was grateful that I had packed an interesting book in my hand luggage. I've been reading about Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit - Learn It and Use it for Life for some time now and thought it might usefully reinforce and augment some of the messages that I had taken from my workshop with Nancy Crow.

By way of background, Tywla Tharp is a distinguished choreographer and her core argument is that creativity is less a matter of genius than of disciplined work habits. "Creativity ... is within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it". All it takes is preparation, consistent effort, organization, and commitment. Show up with dedication. Do the work with full commitment. Throughout the 12 chapters, Twyla includes 32 exercises designed to assist you in fulfilling your creative potential, whatever your field of endeavour.

I am not a great fan of self-help books - they remind me too much of the multitude of management fads that I encountered in my legal career - so I am not likely to slavishly follow all of the exercises. However, many segments of The Creative Habit resonated with me including this part of Chapter 7 - Accidents Will Happen:
"...there's a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work...your creative endavours can never be thoroughly mapped out ahead of time. You have to allow for the suddenly altered landscpae, the change in plan, the accidental spark - and you have to see it as a stroke of luck rather than a disturbance of your perfect scheme. Habitually creative people are, in EB White' phrase, "prepared to be lucky". The words here are "prepared" and "lucky". They're inseparable. You don't get lucky without preparation, and there's no sense in being prepared if you're not open to the possibility of a glorious accident."

I've long embraced what I call the "serendipity factor" in my quilting. Now that my travelling stint for 2006 is over, I'm looking forward to embarking on some quality time in my studio and seeing what emerges.


Blogger Claire said...

What a great quote, I should get hold of a copy of that book.

I regularly feel the tension between planning and over-preparation in my own work. I tend to lose interest things I've spent too much time thinking over, however, I fail if I don't plan things out.

I'll find the balance one day :-)

August 03, 2006 9:44 pm  
Blogger Shelina said...

I like serendipity too. The word is so fun to say, and its when it comes into play.
I've had a couple of quilts that I have planned and planned and didn't turn out at all like I had planned. Other things I throw together work out great.

August 11, 2006 3:30 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home