Twyla Tharp believes that we all have strands of creative code hard-wired into our imaginations — they determine the forms we work in, the stories we tell, and how we tell them. Want to understand your creative DNA? Answer these 33 questions. From The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp.
Take the following questionnaire. If even one answer tells you something new about yourself, you’re one step closer to understanding your creative DNA.
There are no right or wrong answers here. The exercise is intended for your eyes only, which means no cheating, no answers to impress other people. It’s supposed to be an honest self-appraisal of what matters to you. Anything less is a distortion. I include it here and urge you to answer quickly, instinctively. Don’t dawdle.
Your Creative Autobiography
- What is the first creative moment you remember?
- Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?
- What is the best idea you’ve ever had?
- What made it great in your mind?
- What is the dumbest idea?
- What made it stupid?
- Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?
- What is your creative ambition?
- What are the obstacles to this ambition?
- What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?
- How do you begin your day?
- What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?
- Describe your first successful creative act.
- Describe your second successful creative act.
- Compare them.
- What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise, rivals, work, play?
- Which artists do you admire the most?
- Why are they your role models?
- What do you and your role models have in common?
- Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?
- Who is your muse?
- Define muse.
- When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?
- When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?
- When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
- When at work, do you love the process or the result?
- At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?
- What is your ideal creative activity?
- What is your greatest fear?
- What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous questions happening?
- Which of your answers would you most like to change?
- What is your idea of mastery?
- What is your greatest dream?
I devised this questionnaire because it forces us to go back to our origins, our earliest memories, our first causes. We change through life, but we cannot deny our sources, and this test is one way to recall those roots.
The better you know yourself, the more you will know when you are playing to your strengths and when you are sticking your neck out. Venturing out of your comfort zone may be dangerous, yet you do it anyway because our ability to grow is directly proportional to an ability to entertain the uncomfortable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Twyla Tharp, the author of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (Copyright © 2003 by W.A.T. Ltd.) and one of America’s greatest choreographers, began her career in 1965 and has created more than 130 dances for her company as well as for the Joffrey Ballet, The New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, London’s Royal Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. She has won two Emmy awards for television’s Baryshnikov by Tharp, and a Tony Award for the Broadway musical Movin’ Out. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1993 and was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997. She lives and works in New York City.