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Software Marketing Glossary
by Al Harberg, the press release guy from DP Directory

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software marketing, Twyla Tharp,
and creativity for software developers

from chapter 2 of the book The Creative Habit - Learn it and use it for life by Twyla Tharp, the April, 2011 Educational Software Cooperative Software Marketing Book Club selection.


Software developers need a working ritual to enhance their creativity

software creativity and software marketing Twyla Tharp begins every day with a "ritual" - a routine that she has developed over the years. She believes that this type of discipline helps her structure her life, and become more creative. In my experience, people who work for other people's companies - especially larger companies - are forced to follow a ritual of sorts. They set alarm clocks, drive to and from work on the same schedule each week, attend standing meetings, produce status reports each Friday, and engage in dozens of rituals. Once people leave the corporate world and become small independent software vendors (microISVs), many throw these rituals out the window. Tharp sees these rituals as essential to the creative process.

Routines enhance creativity

She urges us to develop routines that feed our creativity, and to stick with these routines - these rituals. We all need to create an environment that is habit-forming. We need routines to harness our "body, ambition, ideas, passions, needs, memories, goals, prejudices, distractions, and fears." Distractions and fears, Tharp warns us, are the dangerous factors that find in our routines.

Twyla Tharp's five biggest fears

The five biggest fears that she faces in her creative work are -

  • The fear that people will not take her work seriously.
  • The fear that her work is derivative - that somebody has done the same work already.
  • The fear that she has nothing to say.
  • The fear that she will annoy somebody important to her.
  • The fear that she won't be able to execute her idea in the real world as effectively as she sees the idea in her mind.

There's nothing new in the software development industry

software marketing and creativity She reminds us that everything that we do has been done before. "Get over yourself" is her advice on how to deal with this fear. Among the distractions that she lists are movies, multitasking, and background music. She regards background music as comforting, but she thinks that it eats away at our being aware of what is going on around us.

Creativity requires a great work environment

The bottom line about routines and rituals - Create a work environment that allows you to function effectively. Concentrate on your work. Eliminate the distractions. Learn to deal with your fears. And turn your solution into a routine that you will follow every day.

This chapter's exercise

Most of the chapters in this book have real-world exercises that Tharp encourages her readers to experiment with. And in my opinion, most of these exercises are excellent. It's very difficult to summarize the exercises without making them sound trivial. But to give you an idea of Tharp's recommendations, here's a summary of this chapter's exercises -

  • Carry a pen with you. Whatever your main creative tool is, be sure it's with you all day. For many of us in the software development industry, this means having a laptop or smartPhone handy day and night. For me, it really means having a pad and pen nearby.
  • Learn to enjoy solitude. Learn to be quiet, without being lonely. She's not talking about meditation or about emptying your mind. Quite the opposite, she's trying to get us to raise ideas, and turn them into creative results in our business or personal lives. Solitude is a critical part of creativity. Learn to deal with it as effectively as possible.
  • Face your fears. Give them names, and they'll become less frightening.
  • Do without the things that distract you. For a week, stop visiting the social networking sites. Stop wasting time watching mediocre television shows.

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