Sunday, March 30, 2014


I read some time ago Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. It is an interesting book by a dancer and choreographer. She praises her own system of note-keeping:
I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me.

The box documents active research on every project … There are separate boxes for everything I’ve ever done. If you want a glimpse into how I think and work, you could do worse than to start with my boxes.

The box makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet.

It also represents a commitment. The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I’ve started work.

The box makes me feel connected to a project. 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.

Most important, though, the box means I never have to worry about forgetting. 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….

They’re easy to buy, and they’re cheap…. They’re one hundred percent functional; they do exactly what I want them to do: hold stuff. I can write on them to identify their contents… I can move them around… When one box fills up, I can easily unfold and construct another. And when I’m done with the box, I can ship it away out of sight, out of mind, so I can move on to the next project, the next box.
It's tax time in the U.S. This is what brought her point home to me again. I use a box to collect throughout the year everything related to taxes. It's not a atorage box, but it is more of the size of a shoe box. I have another one for receipts I need for warranties, and still another one for paper notes that need integration in my electronic project boxes.

I have written before about how my note-taking often starts out from an unstructured shoe-box like approach that slowly evolves into something more structured. It's one of the strengths of ConnectedText that it allows you to start out that way and go from there, that there can be at the same time highly structured parts in a Project and other parts that have no real structure yet, but will eventually be integrated with the rest.

1 comment:

Todd Lucas said...

I've read that, too, long ago. Its certainly stuck with me over the years. A good book for pretty much any on leading a creative or craftful life.

But I am so glad that we can do a virtual simulation of Twyla's boxes. My wife's work is primarily practical and that more than fills the house and her storage space at school. Mine barely makes a dent in my Dropbox ;-)