Friday, October 26, 2012

Start with a Box

For Twyla Tharp, boxes are the way to organize projects. She draws on her 35-year career as a dancer, choreographer, and business person, and tells all of us how we can learn to be more creative in everything we do.

Tharp always kicks off a new project by labelling an empty box, and starting to fill it with everything that she'll use to complete the project. As she explains in her excellent book "The Creative Habit - Learn it and use it for life," start a new project. Name it. Label the box. And start filling it with items that are essential for project success. Most of us in the software development industry use software to organize our projects. But the principles are the same.

Make a list of your goals, and put the list into your box. Add all of the research that you'll be doing for your new project. Load the box up with notes and clippings and everything that will help the project succeed.

Don't mistake your project box for creativity, Tharp tells us. It's an organizational tool, and not a way of generating creative ideas. Tharp also assures us that a box is a great tool for getting back on track if you lose focus.

The author believes that the way to get unstuck is to simply begin your project. If you can't begin at the beginning, then just begin somewhere. Work on a facet of the project that's important. Or fun. You can always go back and take care of the natural beginning for your new creative work.

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