The book opens with the idea that all creative people have a canvas upon which to work and we all use a wide diversity of tools to create something on that canvas. As Tharp puts it, “everything is a tool.”
The catch is that whenever people have a creative space in which to work, they need some degree of preparation to create a masterpiece on that canvas. Creativity requires planning on a lot of different levels. For example, if you read a well-written article, you’re usually seeing the results of a lot of layers of preparation: the original nugget of an idea, research to support that idea (and often multiple layers of that), an outline of an argument, fleshing out that outline with supporting points and evidence, then building that outline into something interesting and exciting with carefully-chosen prose.
It goes even deeper. Each of those steps requires preparation. The translation of that outline into prose, for instance, takes a ton of practice and continuous exposure to inspiration and the talents of great writers. The moment when you make that translation may be creative, but it comes from a ton of preparation for that creative moment. That’s the basic idea of The Creative Habit