In her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Twyla Tharp introduces the idea of “a week without” as a way to boost creativity. She writes,
People go on diets all the time. If they don’t like their weight, they stop eating certain foods. If their spending is out of control, they lock away their credit cards. If they need quiet time at home, they take the phone off the hook. These are all diets of one kind or another. Why not do the same for your creative health? Take a week off from clutter and distractions.
Tharp suggests taking a week-long break from the following things, and noticing what impact it has on your creativity:
1. Mirrors. After a week, you’ll be dying to see your own reflection.
2. Clocks. Let your internal clock rule instead of the time on your wrist or the wall.
3. Newspapers. (Not forever! Just for a week.)
4. Speaking. Tharp this “the perfect editor for the creative soul.” You’ll soon understand what’s actually worth saying–and what isn’t.
Tharp’s idea of “one week without” reminded me very much of Shauna Niequist’s discussion of feasting and fasting in Bread and Wine. The two are inextricably linked: “yin and yang, up and down, permission and discipline, necessary slides back and forth along the continuum of how we feed ourselves.”
I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately, ever since my last Whole 30 ended, and particularly as I continue to examine my long-term relationships with wine and sweets. Moderation is hard for me, but somehow thinking of my life as consisting of seasons of feasting and seasons of fasting rings truer (and sounds a lot more poetic, which doesn’t hurt).
I don’t want Thanksgiving without stuffing or Christmas without cookies and champagne. I don’t want to give up on our family tradition of deep-frying everything we can think of on New Year’s Eve. But I’m learning that feasting can only exist healthfully–physically, spiritually, and emotionally–in a life that also includes fasting.
(I wonder if the opposite is true: does fasting need feasting, as well?)
These two women–writing about very different things–have arrived at the same conclusion: that to appreciate what we have, we need to give it up–if only for a little while.
What have you chosen to give up for a time, and why? And if you’re feeling brave, tell us if there’s anything you’re thinking of giving up for a little while because you think it might do you some good.