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Modern Parenthood

7 tips to help reignite the Twyla Tharp creativity in any parent

7 tips to reignite the Twyla Tharp-style creativity in any parent. From note-taking to magazine-reading to Ms. Tharp's own trademark magpie inspiration box, this list will help parents find that special inspirational spark.

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4. Draw an idea-map. This is a process of writing down ideas in a way that helps you see new relationships and possibilities. I begin with a symbol or word in the center, and then map out my associations with that word—using single words and colored pens to keep the ideas vivid and clear. By mapping out my ideas, I get a new kind of insight into my own thoughts.

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Guest blogger

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller "The Happiness Project" and the forthcoming "Happier at Home." She started her career in law and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. Raised in Kansas City, she lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters. She blogs at  The Happiness Project.

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5. Enjoy the fun of failure. This catchphrase has made a huge difference to me. I’m very ambitious and want to succeed at everything I try, and that makes me very anxious—which isn’t a creative frame of mind. Telling myself that I can enjoy the “fun of failure” has made me (somewhat) more light-hearted about taking risks. As G. K. Chesterton wrote, If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

6. Read random magazines. Every once in a while, I pick up several magazines that I would never ordinarily read. It’s surprisingly interesting and useful. And I love the feeling of possibility that I get whenever I browse in one of those stores that carries 500 different magazines.

7.  Indulge my magpie impulses. I was fascinated to read that when Twyla Tharp has a new project, she starts a cardboard file box to collect all the materials that inspired her—everything from a toy to a CD to a photograph. The first thing she puts in is a slip of paper with a stated goal for the project—something like “keep it simple” or “something perfect” or “tell a story.” “Everything is raw material,” she says.  “Everything is relevant.  Everything is usable.  Everything feeds into my creativity.  But without proper preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it.” When I have the urge to collect materials, articles, or information, I now indulge it. Although I generally fight against any stuff that could become clutter, as with note-taking, I find that these collected materials help spur my creativity.

One of the main outlets for my magpie impulses is this blog. Here I collect many of my favorite quotations, intriguing passages from books I’ve read, interesting images, stories I’ve heard from my friends, and questions that plague me. It’s very, very satisfying. I used to worry that writing every day on my blog would drain me of ideas, but in fact, the more I create, the more I want to create.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Gretchen Rubin blogs at The Happiness Project.

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