I’ve been reading Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work since the past few weeks and I’m thoroughly impressed by the research carried out for the book. The book covers the day-to-day rituals of several interesting folks across the fields of writing, theater, music, architecture, engineering etc. It attempts to summarize how they managed to do meaningful creative work while devoting themselves to earning a living and spending time with family and friends. A good percentage of artists managed to be creative through sheer self-discipline, willpower and optimism while another portion were lazy and lethargic and managed to create when inspiration arrived. Here’s the choicest few rituals that stood out for me personally:
The most useful thing to Mr. Baker was to “feel new”.
You know, you could say to yourself, ‘From now on, I’m only going to write on the back porch in flip-flops starting at 4 PM in the afternoon’. If it feels novel and fresh, it will have a placebo effect and it will help you work.
By the time, Skinner retired from his Harvard teaching post; he had a regular nightly hour of sleeplessness. His alarm ranged four times during the night: at midnight, 1 AM, 5AM and 7AM for one hour of composition. He followed this routine seven days a week, holidays included until only a few days before his death.
Legend has it that Sitwell used to lie in an open coffin fora while before she began her day’s work; this foreetaste of the grave was supposed to inspire her write macabre fiction and poetry.
My only gripe about this book is it can organized a bit better perhaps artists could be ordered based on their vocation or if they knew each other personally. A great read, none-the-less.