3.24.2014

currently reading: daily rituals {part 1}


I never wanted to be president. Even at 6 I knew that to be president meant a dreadful amount of pressure and responsibility. While the other kindergarteners aspired to be president, an astronaut, or a professional athlete, I fancied myself a writer. 

Throughout my teenage years, the desire to write never left me, but the reality that I would indeed have to earn a steady paycheck set in. How, I wondered, does one manage to dedicate herself to a novel while making a living? 

This age-old struggle, along with the issues of waiting for inspiration to strike and overcoming procrastination and indolence are covered in the book Daily Rituals; How Artists Work by Mason Currey. It is a collection of the everyday routines of some of the world’s greatest artists, writers, and musicians. 

I was disappointed upon completing the book that there was no magic formula, no secret ritual for success in a creative field. The magic is in returning to work every day, in discipline and dedication. 

Each writer, composer, painter dealt with his own set of obstacles in creating their work. Some struggled to support their family, while others struggled with too much free time and laziness. Some relied on sugar, alcohol, or other forms of self-medication. Some would lock themselves away and demand no interruptions, while others worked surrounded by activity or stole away at odd times to complete their work in secret.

Jane Austen, for example, worked right in the family sitting room with her mother and sisters knitting nearby. Her only duty in helping run the household was preparing breakfast, as any more responsibility would weigh too heavily on her mind and stifle her writing. She was open about her work with her family, but when others came to visit the house, she would hide her work underneath blotting paper. 

Beethoven was rumored to be more productive during the warmer months, as he sought his inspiration on long walks. I heard that, Ludwig. 

Mozart’s daily routine was inspiring to me, as he side hustled his way to success. In order to earn a living he gave piano lessons, performed concerts in the evening, and courted the wealthy patrons in Vienna. He found time to compose music in the early morning hours.

A pattern I noticed with many of the writers was keeping routine working hours during which they produced work whether or not they felt inspiration. I feel like there's a life lesson in there. Don't wait until the conditions are perfect. Create now.

There is so much to learn from these artistic, musical, and literary giants. We cannot hope to replicate their circumstances, but we can emulate their work ethic and dedication to their craft in a hopes to produce our own masterpiece.

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