3.25.2014

currently reading: daily rituals {part 2}


My ulterior motive for reading Daily Rituals; How Artists Work was to stumble upon that one magical habit that would transform my own daily routine. I don't think I'm the only person searching for increased productivity in my creative work, and I also don't think I'm alone in seeking meaning and joy in the habits that make up my day.

Thusly, I took notes on the practices of the greats. I wanted to know how they ate, when they worked, and whence they drew inspiration. I compiled a list of aspects to consider when setting up your day to maximize creativity.

1. early to rise - most of us don't have family money or a patron who pays us to sit and write all day. This is unfortunate. However, many of history's greatest artists were in the same boat. A good number of them found success by putting in a few solid hours of work before their day job, or before their family arose.

2. eating + drinking - some relied on continuous cups of black coffee or green tea. Some made a hearty breakfast, or snacked on sugary sweets throughout the day. Whatever it is that gives you energy, whether it's a healthy green smoothie or a few extra lumps of sugar in your coffee like Immanuel Kant, build it into your day. Just know that several of these creative geniuses met with an untimely demise due to poor diet and excessive use of substances.

3. know thyself - what struck me about almost all of the people highlighted in the book was that they were self-aware, especially when it came down to work habits. They knew if they were more productive pre-dawn or post-dusk. They knew if they needed complete silence or a bustling café. Figure out how you work best, then go and make it happen.

4. location, location, location - some worked standing up in the kitchen. Some shut themselves in an office. A few even worked from bed in a supine position. If you don't already have that sweet spot in your abode, you may need to head to the local library or coffee shop to get those creative juices going. This may also mean investing in a writing desk, or arranging your kitchen table into an inspiring work station.

5. activity - a long walk was a common habit of the greats, but others included swimming, daily calisthenics, or a light jog. It seems many of the most genius ideas were conceived during a leisurely stroll.

6. interests - from entertaining friends to cooking gourmet meals, maintaining an interest outside of your creative work can help to refresh your mind. Enjoy a nightcap with your significant other, hit the cafés and bars to soak up the social scene like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, or hold lively dinner parties to exchange ideas.

All of these habits are worthwhile to cultivate. However, the most important piece of advice I gleaned from this book was the act of creating every day. Some of the greats would put in a full 8 hour day of writing only to end up keeping 2 sentences. But almost all of them said the same thing - it adds up. Produce every day and after awhile you will see the results.

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