Mason 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.
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