Creativity: Stroke of genuis or result of hard work?

by. Lisa Hochgraf

People often ask how I manage to get up at 5:45 a.m. at least once a week to go swim laps. The answer is simple: “It makes my life better.” By improving both my mood for the day and my sleep for the night, my regular early morning swims make me a more capable editor (and parent).

Such early morning ritual is apparently essential to many creative types who believe innovation and creativity depend on hard work and discipline.

Take Twyla Tharp. Modern dance choreographer extraordinaire, Tharp describes in her 2003 book, The Creative Habit, how she gets up at 5:30 a.m. every day, puts on her workout clothes and hat, and hails a New York city cab to take her to the gym. She says this ritual sets the stage for her creative day, preparing her mind, body and soul to later walk into a “white room” with some of the best dancers in the world and create a dance for them to perform for a world audience.

Tharp cites the debate about whether creativity is a transcendent, inexplicable  act of inspiration–the proverbial “light bulb”–or the result of hard work. Then, she comes down solidly on the side of hard work.

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