Category Archives: Creative Bookclub

Daily Rituals by Mason Curry – Lessons Learned from How Artists Work

This book showcases predominantly male artists/writers/creatives, but I’ve decided to share with you a few of the rituals of the women included, and reflect on what we can learn from their daily routines.

 

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason CurryMason Curry has put together a collection of the daily routines and rituals of 161 artists in his book “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.” Some commonalities among the personalities in his book are a dependance on coffee or other stimulants, and either an affinity for working very early or very late. This book showcases predominantly male artists/writers/creatives, but I’ve decided to share with you a few of the rituals of the women included, and reflect on what we can learn from their daily routines.

Lessons Learned from How Artists Work

Jane Austen, in her attempt to keep her identity as a writer a secret, wrote on snippets of paper in her sitting room that she would hide away between seat cushions when receiving visitors, or when servants entered.
Lesson: Don’t let interruptions stop you from picking the pen back up (figuratively or literally).

Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) created a ritual which involved writing on her bed surrounded by items – cigarettes and donuts among them – that brought her enjoyment. In this way she sort of tricked herself into working. She wrote prolifically and daily, so it must have worked.
Lesson: Build a ritual that brings you enjoyment, even though there is hard work involved.

For many years Toni Morrison had to write between being a mom and working two other jobs as an editor and professor. How’d she do it? Little socializing, early mornings and contemplating ideas during everyday tasks.
Lesson: You have to make priorities – after work drinks vs. working after work. Use your daily commute, and time during other monotonous tasks, to ideate.

Georgia O’Keefe began each morning watching the sun come up, followed by a walk in her tranquil New Mexico setting, before a day of painting . She ended each day with an early evening drive.
Lesson: Go for a walk. Soak up nature and make solitude your friend.

Alice Munro took almost 20 years to compile Dance of the Happy Shades. She monopolized on nap time and school hours to carve out time for her writing. When her children were older she rented an office for a while, but that space was also fraught with interruptions.
Lesson: Do what you can, when you can. Be in it for the long haul.

Want to know each month’s book pick in advance? Click here to read along.

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The Creative Bookclub: Lessons Learned from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

February's Creative Bookclub: Lessons Learned from "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert

My book pick for February’s was “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Have you ever read a book that you felt was written just for you? That’s what this book was for me. I was nodding along and thinking Yes! Yes! Yes! At every page. It left me buzzing with excitement about my own creative journey.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert In essence, this is a guide to living a creative life, broken into 6 main lessons. My favourite section of Big Magic is called “Enchantment” and explores the idea that creativity, ideas, and inspiration are mystical forces swirling around the universe. Ideas may come to you, and you may embrace them wholeheartedly and take them on your journey. They may pass through you on to someone else, or you may hold them temporarily and lose your grasp. This is part of the phenomena of Big Magic.

This book is full of anecdotes and lessons that I can’t fully do justice to here. Honestly, it’s hard not to quote the entire book, but these are the the lessons that resonate most with me:

  1. When describing her engineer father’s dream to start a Christmas-tree farm and later a bee farm, she says “He didn’t quit his day job to follow his dream; he just folded his dream into his everyday life.” Living a creative life does not have to involve education, quitting your day job, or embracing a tortured existence. So that’s a relief. Now that the pressure is off you can just do the thing you love.
  2. Announce to the universe, and regularly, that you are a creative person. You are entitled to own this . “I am a maker.” See what I did there? Your turn. Repeat whenever faced with your inner doubt or external criticism.
  3. You are only in charge of producing the work; you are not responsible for the reaction.
  4. Persevere – not for fame or fortune or recognition, but because it brings you pleasure and fulfillment. “You must search tirelessly and faithfully, hoping against hope to someday experience that divine collision of creative communion.”
  5. Be curious. You may not always have a passionate intensity for your craft, but “curiosity is accessible to everyone.”
  6. Tell yourself: “You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.”

Want to know each month’s book pick in advance? Click here to read along.

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