Issuu is a digital publishing platform that makes it simple to publish magazines, catalogs, newspapers, books, and more online. Easily share. Artists considering how they work--in letters, diaries, interviews, beguilingly compiled and edited by Mason Currey. "How artists work, how they ritualize their days with the comforting (mundane) details of their lives: their daily routines, fears, dreams, naps, eating habits, and. Daily rituals: how artists work / by Mason Currey.—First edition. pages cm eISBN: 1. Artists—Psychology. I. Currey, Mason. II. Title. NX
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Daily Rituals "How artists work, how they ritualize their days with the comforting ( mundane) details of their lives: their daily routines, fears, dreams, naps, eating. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work [Mason Currey] on sidi-its.info *FREE* shipping a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App. Editorial Reviews. sidi-its.info Review. A Look Inside Daily Rituals. Maya Angelou Daily Rituals: How Artists Work - Kindle edition by Mason Currey. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features.
Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets a mix of amphetamine and aspirin , ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day. Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words words every fifteen minutes for three hours before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for thirty-three years during the writing of more than two dozen books. Karl Marx. Woody Allen. Agatha Christie.
Daily Rituals: Women at Work. Mason Currey. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Cal Newport. Tools of Titans: Timothy Ferriss. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. Twyla Tharp. The Artist's Journey: Bold Strokes To Spark Creativity. Nancy Hillis. Editorial Reviews Amazon. Click here for a larger image. Currey outs the habits of nearly choreographers, comedians, composers, caricaturists, filmmakers, philosophers, playwrights, painters, poets, scientists, sculptors, and writers in a dizzying array that includes Benjamin Franklin, Henri Matisse, Nikola Tesla, Stephen King, Twyla Tharp, Federico Fellini, Ann Beattie, Gustav Mahler, and Toni Morrison.
Here are early birds and night owls, the phenomenally rigorous and the nearly dysfunctional. George Balanchine thought things out while ironing. See all Editorial Reviews. Product details File Size: Knopf April 23, Publication Date: April 23, Sold by: English ASIN: Enabled X-Ray: Book Series.
Is this feature helpful? Thank you for your feedback. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention daily rituals mason currey creative process work habits creative people every day fun read artists work creative types hours a day famous people enjoyed this book rituals of artists daily routines interesting read artists and writers maya angelou highly recommend joyce carol truman capote.
Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Hardcover Verified Purchase. So here's the takeaway: The people described in this book all work very hard and, frequently, VERY long hours.
Regular, extended exercise - usually walking - is frequently an important part of their routines. They're mostly early risers, with significant exceptions, and do their best work in the first several hours of the day.
There are a few nightowls but not many. They have a work routine that they adhere to almost fanatically. Finally, implicitly, habits are key in their successes and productivity. There, I've saved you the price of this book. The stories about the different artists are frequently interesting on their own account and very useful in fleshing out the "takeaways" listed above. I don't think it's intended as a self-help book. The author doesn't attempt to derive a series of lessons from his subjects' activities but a pattern emerges after reading a lot of these.
Excellent book for those readers who want to get a glimpse into the schedules of extraordinary talented artists The creative process is often thought of as elusive and transient, however this book goes to great lengths to show how a steady working schedule can often lead to some of the modern world's greatest creative achievements.
Very inspiring for those wanting to create some kind of art in their day If you're reclusive. Small format books ask us not to take them seriously, but don't be fooled here.
This little gem is a fount of inspiration for anyone with creative urges and dreams. The diversity of creators represented is a welcoming affirmation that whoever you are and however you create, there's a place for you at the table. If you're disciplined, you'll find models of discipline. If you're a hard partier, you'll have good company. If you're reclusive, you'll be affirmed in your desire and need for solitude. Mason Currey has done a fine job bringing creators from many centuries into our awareness to speak for themselves or be spoken about.
Thank you. This book was described in a catalog I receive. It sounded interesting so I checked out a copy from the local library.
Half way through reading a library copy I ordered a copy. If you do creative work of any kind you are probably trying to find out how to organize your time and effort for best results.
I wanted to see how successful artists do it. This book is heavily researched and also very readable. It is about life stories. I bought a copy for ongoing reference. I have read it through and i'll be referring to it over the years. I enjoyed this book and I wrote a complete review on my website. It's a bit lengthy to post here, but the following excerpt should be more enough to get my point across.
Is your creativity driven by a looming deadline? Do you need four or five cups of Diet Pepsi or tea before you can even think of putting one word on the paper? Does the rest of the world need to be sleeping for you to hit your stride? Do you sometimes type the title of an article on the page just to see words on the page?
If not, join the ranks of many creatives that have rituals or behaviors that get their creative muscles warmed up and ready for the battle of the blank sheet or canvas. As a creative who grew up with other creatives, Daily Rituals piqued my interest and would hopefully feed my curious nature. He felt he needed the nightly breaks to clear his head from literary labor that was exacting and exhausting.
Once, after two days of work yielded only two finished sentences, Joyce was asked if he had been seeking the right words. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentences I have. From until his death, Proust devoted the whole of his life to the writing of his monumental novel of time and memory, Remembrance of Things Past, eventually published in seven volumes, adding up to nearly 1.
Upon waking in the late afternoon— typically about 3: Then he would ring for his longtime housekeeper and confidante, Celeste, to serve the coffee. This was an elaborate ritual in its own right. Celeste then waited in the kitchen in case Proust rang a second time, which signaled that he was ready to receive a second croissant always kept at the ready and a fresh jug of boiled milk to mix with the remaining coffee.
And sometimes only one croissant! As he dipped his croissant in his coffee, Proust would open the mail and sometimes read choice passages aloud to Celeste. Then he carefully worked his way through several daily newspapers, displaying a keen interest not only in literature and the arts but politics and finance as well. Afterward, if Proust had decided to go out that evening, he would begin the many preparations that entailed: Otherwise, he began work soon after finishing with the newspaper, writing for a few hours at a stretch before ringing for Celeste to bring him something or join him for a chat.
Sometimes these chats could go on for hours, particularly if Proust had recently gone out or received an interesting visitor—he seemed to use the chats as a rehearsal ground for his fiction, drawing out the nuances and hidden meaning of a conversation or encounter until he was ready to capture it on the page. Proust wrote exclusively in bed, lying with his body almost completely horizontal and his head propped up by two pillows.
To reach the exercise book resting on his lap, he had to lean awkwardly on one elbow, and his only working light was a weak, green-shaded bedside lamp. Thus any substantial period of work left his wrist cramped and his eyes exhausted.
If he felt too tired to concentrate, Proust would take a caffeine tablet, and when he was finally ready to sleep, he would counteract the caffeine with Veronal, a barbital sedative.
He thought suffering had value, and that it was the root of great art. It was spent largely in his room, isolated from the world, coming face to face with his own demons, attempting to explore the workings of his mind.
His routine was for the most part simple enough. He would then leave for his late-night perambulation of the bars of Montparnasse, drinking copious amounts of cheap red wine, returning before dawn and the long attempt to sleep. His entire life revolved around his almost psychotic obsession to write. The siege began with an epiphany. On a late-night walk near Dublin harbor, Beckett found himself standing on the end of a pier in the midst of a winter storm. In accepting it, I will make it work for me.
Generally, three hours of composition were the most he could manage in a day, although he would do less demanding tasks—writing letters, copying scores, practicing the piano—in the afternoon. Unless he was touring, Stravinsky worked on his compositions daily, with or without inspiration, he said.
He required solitude for the task, and always closed the windows of his studio before he began: When talking he would stop, bend one knee a little, adjust his pince-nez and place his fist on his hip. Then he would take off once more, with small deliberate steps. Locals who saw him pass by each day soon began calling him the Velvet Gentleman. When he could, Satie earned some money in the evening playing piano for cabaret singers.
The last train back to Arcueil left at 1: Then he would walk the several miles home, sometimes not arriving until the sun was about to rise. Nevertheless, as soon as they next morning dawned, he would set off to Paris once more. The new situation suited his growing fame as a painter, as well as his lifelong bourgeois aspirations. Picasso took over its large, airy studio, forbade anyone from entering without his permission, and surrounded himself with his painting supplies, piles of miscellaneous junk, and a menagerie of pets, including a dog, three Siamese cats, and a monkey named Monina.
Throughout his life, Picasso went to bed late and got up late. At the boulevard de Clichy, he would shut himself in the studio by 2: When he finally emerged from his studio, however, he was hardly good company.
Picasso would make more of an effort to be sociable if guests were present, as they frequently were. He had mixed feelings about entertaining. Picasso claimed that, even after three or four hours standing in front of a canvas, he did not feel the slightest fatigue. This is my only rule. Sartre lived in a creative frenzy for most of his life, alternating between his daily six hours of work and an intense social life filled with rich meals, heavy drinking, drugs, and tobacco.
On a typical day, Sartre worked in his Paris apartment until noon, then went out for an hour of appointments scheduled by his secretary. At night he slept badly, knocking himself out for a few hours with barbiturates. By the s, too much work on too little sleep—with too much wine and cigarettes—had left Sartre exhausted and on the verge of collapse. T he prescribed dose was one or two tablets in the morning and at noon.
Sartre took twenty a day, beginning with his morning coffee and slowly chewing one pill after another as he worked. For each tablet, he could produce a page or two of his second major philosophical work, The Critique of Dialectical Reason.
This was hardly his only excess. It was only a question of separating them and writing them on the paper. During his eight years of employment there, the Missouri- born poet assumed the guise of the archetypal English businessman: Eliot took the train into the city each morning and, from the railroad station, joined the crowd crossing London Bridge a scene he would draw on for the Unreal City portion of The Waste Land.
The literary critic I. The big table almost entirely filled a little room under the street. Within a foot of our heads when we stood were the thick, green glass squares of the pavement on which hammered all but incessantly the heels of the passers-by.
There was just room for two perches beside the table. Although Richards paints a depressing picture, Eliot was grateful for the job. By contrast, Lloyds was a godsend. It is not nearly so fatiguing as school teaching, and is more interesting.
It was an ideal arrangement, but over time the routine became dulling. When Eliot found out about the plan he was appreciative but embarrassed; he preferred the security and independence afforded by Lloyds. He remained there until , when he accepted an editorial position at the publishing firm Faber and Gwyer later Faber and Faber , where he would stay for the rest of his career.
The Russian composer was able to conceptualize a new work entirely in his head, and then write it down with extreme rapidity—if uninterrupted, he could average twenty or thirty pages of score a day, making virtually no corrections as he went. It was a mystery how he managed to compose so much music. Intrigued, Meyerovich began to watch him closely: He would play football and fool around with friends; then he would suddenly disappear.
After forty minutes or so he would turn up again. Let me kick the ball. Every now and then he would disappear for a while and then join us again. Towards the end of my stay, he disappeared altogether. Then he turned up, unshaven and looking exhausted. Dmitry Shostakovich, circa s photo credit Although his fellow composers were amazed by the speed and sureness with which he conceived new works, Shostakovich himself was afraid that perhaps he worked too fast.
Undoubtedly this is bad. Henry Green — Green led a double life. Called Pontifex, its chief product was a high-pressure filling machine for beer bottling.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey (free ebook epub/mobi)
Jeremy Treglown offers an answer in his biography: Though he occasionally spoke to his friends about giving up Pontifex and living off his unearned income in order to do nothing but write, he was beginning to find that the office routines of Henry Yorke were useful, even essential, to the imaginative work of Henry Green. He feared his own volatility and often referred to his need for habitual routines to keep him sane.
The job gave him day-to-day stability as well as experiences that he could use in his writing. It was also much less demanding than fiction. According to Treglown, a typical day in the life of Henry Yorke, managing director of Pontifex, looked something like this: He arrived at work at about At When the managing director finally returned to the office, he repeated his morning routine and then—maybe— wrote a page or two of his novel before catching the bus home.
After dinner and any social engagements, he would settle into his armchair with a notebook and a cheap pen wrapped with a bandage to make it easier to grip and scribble away until about midnight.
An interviewer later asked if this discovery affected his business relationships: Yes, yes, oh yes—why, some years ago a group at our Birmingham works put in a penny each and bought a copy of a book of mine, Living.
I never had a definite place which was my room or where I retired specially to write. But there was no such place.
I do much the same. I felt slightly embarrassed if I was going to write. Once I could get away, however, shut the door and get people not to interrupt me, then I was able to go full speed ahead, completely lost in what I was doing.
He wrote for three or four hours every morning, setting himself a daily requirement of one thousand to one thousand five hundred words. Then, once at work, there was little to distract him— Maugham believed that it was impossible to write while looking at a view, so his desk always faced a blank wall. There he maintained regular office hours, devoting his mornings to the thriller The Confidential Agent and his afternoons to The Power and the Glory.
To manage the pressure of writing two books at once, he took Benzedrine tablets twice daily, one upon waking and the other at midday. As a result he was able to write two thousand words in the morning alone, as opposed to his usual five hundred. After only six weeks, The Confidential Agent was completed and on its way to being published. The Power and the Glory took another four months.
By his sixties he admitted that, where he once required five hundred words of himself each day, he was now setting the bar as low as two hundred words. It was tedious and low-paying work, but Cornell stayed there for six years. He felt obligated to be the wage earner for his household—he lived with his mother and handicapped brother in a small house in Flushing, Queens—and he was still a relative unknown in the art world.
Photograph by Hans Namuth. It was not easy going. Some nights he felt too fatigued from his day job to concentrate on his art and would sit up reading instead, switching on the oven for warmth. He still worked nights at the kitchen table, while his mother and brother slept upstairs. Afternoons were spent on the freelance commercial work that paid the bills and helped Cornell justify his lack of a day job to his mother. During the s, he returned to the workforce twice, happy at first to resume the reassuring nine-to-five routine.
Then, after a period of months, he would grow frustrated and quit. She was using sedatives to get to sleep, and when they wore off at about 5: Working like this for two months in the autumn of , she produced nearly all the poems of Ariel, the posthumously published collection that finally established her as a major and searingly original new voice in poetry. For once Plath felt possessed by her work, triumphant in the creative act.
I am writing the best poems of my life; they will make my name. Cheever continued to write pretty much every morning for the rest of his life—but as his career progressed, the writing sessions grew shorter and shorter, while cocktail hour began earlier and earlier.
The hour between five and six is my best. It is dark. A few birds sing. I feel contented and loving. I am unready for the day—unready to face it soberly, that is. Some days I would like to streak down to the pantry and pour a drink. I recite the incantations I recorded three years ago, and it was three years ago that I described the man who thought continuously of bottles.
The situation is, among other things, repetitious. The hours between seven and ten, when I begin to drink, are the worst.
I could take a Miltown [a tranquilizer], but I do not. I am afraid of cars, planes, boats, snakes, stray dogs, falling leaves, extension ladders, and the sound of the wind in the chimney; Dr.
Gespaden, I am afraid of the wind in the chimney. I sleep off my hooch after lunch and very often awake feeling content once more, and loving, although I do not work. Swimming is the apex of the day, its heart, and after this—night is falling—I am stoned but serene. So I sleep and dream until five. All of this was distracting from his work, especially since Cheever placed a high value on the salutary effects of erotic release.
To manage the stress and boredom of this lifestyle, Armstrong evolved an elaborate pre- and post-show ritual, described by Terry Teachout in his biography. He took pains to arrive at any engagement two hours before starting time, already bathed and dressed, so that he could hole up in his dressing room, dosing himself with the home remedies he always swore by: When the show was over, he returned to the dressing room to greet friends and fans, sitting in his undershirt with a handkerchief tied on his head, fiddling with his trumpet.
Armstrong never ate dinner before a show, but he would sometimes go out for a late supper afterward or, more often, retreat to his hotel room for a room-service meal or take-out Chinese food, his second-favorite cuisine after red beans and rice.
A lifelong insomniac, Armstrong relied on music to lull himself to sleep. Before he could get into bed, however, he had to administer the last of his daily home remedies, Swiss Kriss, a potent herbal laxative invented by the nutritionist Gayelord Hauser in and still on the market today.
Feel like I spent 20, years on planes and railroads, like I blowed my chops off. Yeats — In , Yeats described his routine in a letter to his fellow poet Edwin Ellis: I write from 11 till 2, then after lunch I read till 3: Then I go into the woods or fish in the lake till 5. Then I write letters or work a little till 7 when I go out for an hour before dinner. Fortunately, Yeats was not so careful about his other writing, like the literary criticism he did to earn extra money. I am just as free as I want to be and of course I have nothing to worry about about money.
He arrived at the office at 9: Between work and home he walked, a distance of three or four miles each way. Most days, he took an additional hour- long walk on his lunch break. It was on these walks that he composed his poetry, stopping now and then to scribble lines on one of the half-dozen or so envelopes he always had stuffed in his pocket. At work, too, he would occasionally pause t o write down fragments of poems, which he kept filed in the lower right- hand drawer of his desk, and he would routinely hand his secretary these various scraps of verse for typing.
Although his colleagues were aware of his poetry, Stevens assiduously avoided talking about it, preferring to maintain the face of a mild-mannered, somewhat aloof businessman in all his public dealings with the world. And the agreement I have with myself is that I can stop whenever I like and go and shave and so on.
Then I emerge, and nicotine and alcohol are produced. He would rise a little before 8: Then a taxi would take him to the pub or to the all-male Garrick Club, where he would have his first drink of the day a Macallan malt with a splash of water. He might have one drink before lunch, or he might have two or three.
Then there was wine with lunch, followed by coffee, and, perhaps, a glass or two of claret or burgundy. With his writing day now over, Amis poured himself another Scotch-and-water and settled down to watch his favorite television programs before dinner with the family, followed by more television or perhaps a video. Martin Amis b. Amis said that he writes every weekday, driving himself to an office less than a mile from his London apartment. He keeps business hours but generally writes for only a small portion of that time.
Two hours. I think most writers would be very happy with two hours of concentrated work. If I am in my countryside home, at the top of the hills of Montefeltro, then I have a certain routine. I turn on my computer, I look at my e- mails, I start reading something, and then I write until the afternoon.
Later I go to the village, where I have a glass at the bar and read the newspaper. There I have a certain routine because I am not interrupted. I can work in the water closet, in the train. While swimming I produce a lot of things, especially in the sea.
Less so in the bathtub, but there too. So I sometimes take extra showers. It breaks up everything and relaxes me. The shower is particularly good in cold weather. Then I get out and dry myself and dress and then flop down on the bed and think there. Going out for a walk works just as well, although Allen can no longer walk the streets without being recognized and approached, which ruins his concentration. I would go at 2: I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee—with lots of sugar.
In a silver goblet. I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. It was like I had a desk with paper. Then I go about the business of my day. It throws me. She described her routine in a interview: I usually get up at about 5: He goes off to his work around 6: I keep a dictionary, a Bible, a deck of cards and a bottle of sherry in the room.
I try to get there around 7, and I work until 2 in the afternoon. If the work is going badly, I stay until We have a semblance of a normal life.
Daily rituals : how artists work (eBook, ) [sidi-its.info]
Sometimes I hear the dissonance; then I try to straighten it out in the morning. Maya Angelou at work, photo credit Sometimes the intensity of the work brings on strange physical reactions—her back goes out, her knees swell, and her eyelids once swelled completely shut. Still, she enjoys pushing herself to the limits of her ability. The choreographer rose early, before 6: Then he did his ironing for the day he did his own washing too, in a portable machine in his Manhattan apartment and, between 7: He often taught a class there at The work went slowly; two hours of rehearsal might amount to only two minutes of actual ballet on stage.
But Balanchine never lacked for inspiration. Al Hirschfeld — The great American caricaturist—who immortalized virtually all of the major Broadway and Hollywood stars of his era—continued to work right up to his death, at age ninety-nine, driving himself from his uptown Manhattan brownstone to the theater district most nights and finding a parking spot on the street , using a system of personal shorthand to create preliminary sketches in the dark, and turning those sketches into finished drawings in his studio the next day.
In his 90s, he continues his daily routine, working a full day in his studio, breaking only for lunch and having tea at his worktable with a supply of caramels for snacks. Except for the telephone, he remains isolated and seldom breaks his regimen to go out to eat or to a museum. Evenings are reserved for theatergoing and socializing. When he is not at the theater, he is usually having dinner at home with friends. After the theater, if he does not go to an opening night party, he is home in time to watch the news and Nightline on television.
The next morning, holding onto that dream, he rises at first light and races to his drawing board to jot down all those nocturnal notions.
As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. Even the typing was done in bed, with the typewriter balanced on his knees. And he compulsively added numbers in his head, refusing to dial a telephone number or accept a hotel room if the digits made a sum he considered unlucky. At the time, he was living in the Brooklyn apartment of the Newton family, whom he had befriended years earlier in Chicago. Herbert Newton was a prominent black Communist busy with Party duties; he left the house at about 9: As Hazel Rowley details in her biography, Wright got up by 6: Carrying his writing supplies—a yellow legal pad, a fountain pen, and a bottle of ink—Wright walked to nearby Fort Greene Park, where he would install himself on a bench at the top of the hill and write for four hours.
He stuck to this routine in all weather, returning to the apartment at Then Wright would head upstairs to his bedroom to type what he had written in the morning.
Afterward he visited the public library or saw friends, sometimes returning to the apartment for a 5: When, after six months, the family moved to a new apartment, Wright went with them, holing up in a back bedroom to revise his manuscript, working as many as fifteen hours a day.
This was his lifestyle as a young bachelor—when he belonged to a drinking club and often met his fellow members at a saloon after work—and it hardly changed when he got married, at age fifty, to a fellow writer. Then the couple worked for three or four hours in the morning, ate lunch, took naps, worked for another few hours, ate dinner, and returned to work until Unbelievably, he claimed to have a lazy temperament.
My life is as simple as I can make it. Work all day, cook, eat, wash up, telephone, hack writing, drink, television in the evenings. I almost never go out. I suppose everyone tries to ignore the passing of time— some people by doing a lot, being in California one year and Japan the next.
Probably neither works. Larkin worked as a librarian for almost his entire adult life, realizing early on that he would never be able to make a living from his writing alone.
Although he admitted to wondering what would have happened had he been able to write full- time, he also thought that two hours of composition in the evenings, after dinner and the dishes, was plenty: He held meetings, took phone calls, answered letters, supervised students—but was rarely seen at the drafting table.
The friend wanted to know: When did Wright conceive the ideas and make the sketches for his buildings? Then I go to bed for another nap. Another reason that Wright was rarely seen working on his designs is that the architect never made so much as a sketch until he had the entire project worked out in his head.
Numerous colleagues have reported, with some consternation, his habit of postponing project drawings until right before a crucial client meeting. Wright did not get frazzled by these forced bursts of last- minute productivity; indeed, colleagues and family reported that he never seemed hurried, and that he seemed to have an almost inexhaustible supply of creative energy. Even at age eighty-five, she claimed, Wright could still make love to her two or three times a day.
Kahn — Like a lot of architects, Kahn worked as a university professor at the same time that he maintained a busy private practice.
When he got tired, he would sleep on a bench in his office for a few hours before moving back to the drafting table. This was both inspiring and intimidating for his employees, who were expected to put in similarly long hours.
He started the day with a breakfast of eggs, toast, coffee, and orange juice, then immediately began composing, sitting at the piano in his pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers. He would take breaks for a mid-afternoon lunch, a late-afternoon walk, and supper at about 8: He was dismissive of inspiration, saying that if he waited for the muse he would compose at most three songs a year.
It was better to work every day. Television drove me back to Catch Even after the sale of the film rights to Catch enabled Heller to quit advertising and write full-time, he produced books very slowly; his second novel , Something Happened, arrived thirteen years after Catch In a interview he described his process: While working, he liked to listen to classical music, particularly Bach.
He had recently lost a university teaching position and needed a way to make money while he worked on his poetry. It was a demanding position, made more so by the fact that Dickey was simultaneously trying to find time for his literary endeavors during the workday.
Unlike most of his fellow ad men, Dickey kept his office door shut. If a colleague came knocking, he would quickly clear his desk of poems and poetry books.
They figured: Dickey eventually worked for three Atlanta ad agencies, seeking more senior positions in the hopes that developing big-picture creative campaigns would be less demanding than churning out a constant stream of radio and television ads. Meanwhile, his poetry career was gaining momentum—he had won several significant prizes, and he was working hard to finish a manuscript for publication.
Later, after he had started his own company, Tesla arrived at the office at noon. Immediately, his secretary would draw the blinds; Tesla worked best in the dark and would raise the blinds again only in the event of a lightning storm, which he liked to watch flashing above the cityscape from his black mohair sofa. These dinners were carefully scripted affairs. Tesla ate alone, and phoned in his instructions for the meal in advance.
Upon arriving, he was shown to his regular table, where eighteen clean linen napkins would be stacked at his place. As he waited for his meal, he would polish the already gleaming silver and crystal with these squares of linen, gradually amassing a heap of discarded napkins on the table. But there was more than a kernel of truth in this depiction.
From the time he retired from public performances in , when he was thirty-one years old, Gould devoted himself completely to his work, spending the vast majority of his time thinking about music at home or recording music in the studio. He had no hobbies and only a few close friends and collaborators, with whom he communicated mostly by telephone. Bright colors of any kind depress me, in fact, and my moods are more or less inversely related to the clarity of the sky on any given day. So I schedule my errands for as late an hour as possible, and I tend to emerge along with the bats and the raccoons at twilight.
Glenn Gould, Toronto, the s photo credit Then he might head to the Canadian Broadcasting Centre to collect his mail and catch up on the latest gossip; if he was recording, he would arrive at the studio at about 7: It was almost as if the constant repetition of certain rituals created a kind of security blanket.
By his own estimate he listened to recordings or the radio for at least six or seven hours a day, and he usually had two radios and the TV all going at the same time, in different rooms. Gould began another, longer round of telephone calls, often lasting until 1: Many of his friends have described the experience of receiving a Gould call: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould.
Eating more frequently made him feel guilty, he said, although he snacked on arrowroot biscuits, Ritz crackers, tea, water, orange juice, and coffee throughout his waking hours.
Finally, at 5: I have nearly always typed my manuscripts, without consulting any reference books or dictionaries. In my hotel room in Paris I only needed cigarettes, a bottle of scotch, and occasionally a good dish of meat and vegetables cooking on the burner behind me.
Then she joined her mother in the kitchen, where they would share a Thermos of coffee while listening to the weather report on the radio. Morning mass was at 7: Before bedtime she might recite another prayer from her Breviary, but her usual nighttime reading was a seven- hundred-page volume of Thomas Aquinas.
In the early afternoon he ran errands and dealt with the mail, then began the slow process of easing into work mode. Listening to music was a key part of this transition: I could not have lived in Bohemia or lived the life of a renegade or a pariah, but I think my works have been nonetheless revolutionary in their own way and certainly anti- establishment.
I have had in my little study in Connecticut all these years that famous line from Flaubert tacked to my wall: Philip Roth b. Coal mining is hard work. This is a nightmare. Temperamentally, we need tha t newness. In fact, one skill that every writer needs is the ability to sit still in this deeply uneventful business. Roth has cultivated that ability with gusto since at least , when he moved to an austere eighteenth-century house on sixty acres in rural northwest Connecticut.
A two-room former guest cottage serves as his studio. He goes there to work each morning after breakfast and exercise. My schedule is absolutely my own. I go back out and I work for two or three more hours. I have these little yellow things all over the place. I read till all hours if I want to. Wodehouse — Wodehouse wrote more than ninety books in his career, continuing to work daily even in his last decade.
By then he was living full-time at Remsenburg, the summer retreat on Long Island that he shared with his wife, Ethel, their servants, five cats, and four dogs. Afterward, he smoked a pipe, took a short walk with the dogs, and, by 9: Wind writes: The principal pieces of furniture are a leather armchair for lounging and thinking and a plain wooden desk about three feet by five.
On top of the desk are a dictionary, a knife for cleaning out pipes, and a bulky Royal typewriter, which Wodehouse has used since His method of composition has remained virtually unchanged through the years. He does the first draft in longhand, in pencil.
Then he sits down at the Royal and does a moderate amount of revising and polishing as he types. After he had dictated the equivalent of a page, he played it back to check it over. What he heard sounded so terribly unfunny that he immediately turned off the machine and went back to his pad and pencil. Wodehouse had to be back in his study by 3: Then he had a traditional English tea with his wife. This was followed by dinner, alone with Ethel, and eaten early to allow the cook to get home to her family.
After dinner, Wodehouse would usually read, but occasionally he would play two-handed bridge with Ethel, a habit, he joked, that doubtlessly suggested he was senile. The tale is probably false. What is certain is that Sitwell liked to write in bed, beginning at 5: He rose each day at about 7: Then, returning to his chamber, he would record the minutes of his thoughts on a sheet of paper pasted to an inch-thick square lapboard.
Dinner was served precisely at In the afternoon, Hobbes wrote in his chamber again, fleshing out his morning notes. Milton devoted the morning to solitary contemplation in bed, beginning at 4: First he had an aide read to him from the Bible for half an hour. Then Milton was left alone to compose as many lines as his memory could retain.
Then Milton walked up and down his garden for three or four hours. In the late afternoon and evening he received visitors, ate a light supper, smoked a pipe, and went to bed at about 9: The French philosopher liked to sleep until mid- morning, then linger in bed, thinking and writing, until After an early lunch, he would take a walk or meet friends for conversation; after supper, he dealt with his correspondence.
In any case, it proved a disastrous decision. Arriving in Sweden, in time for one of the coldest winters in memory, Descartes was notified that his lessons to Queen Christina would take place in the mornings—beginning at 5: He had no choice but to obey.
But the early hours and bitter cold were too much for him. After only a month on the new schedule, Descartes fell ill, apparently of pneumonia; ten days later he was dead. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — As a young man Goethe could write all day long, but as he grew older he found that he could muster the necessary creative energy only in the mornings. And even so, what does this work amount to?
Intolerant of interruptions, Schiller also wrote almost exclusively at night. In the summer he preferred to work outdoors, beside his small garden house in the suburbs of Jena, Germany. Often the neighbours used to hear him earnestly declaiming, in the silence of the night: He then went to bed, from which he seldom rose till nine or ten. A conscientious use of it could make us into something quite amazing. Meanwhile many a pipe was smoked. For everything else that goes by the name of work he had no use.
He rose at four every morning, even when he had been invited out the previous evening, had drunk a good deal of wine and not got to bed until very late. Soon after rising, and without breakfasting, he went to church. At five he took coffee with me, and with it a couple of dry rolls. Then work began: These were then looked through, personal letters read and answered, or music tried out. I often ate with him. The meal was good and substantial, but simple. With it a glass of wine would be drunk, or water and brandy in the French manner, which he liked very much.
Then he would smoke— indeed he smoked all the time when not eating or sleeping. Last of all there was the coffee machine. Later in the afternoon, Liszt took a long nap of two hours or more—to make up, in part, for his sleepless nights, which he spent pacing his room and sitting at the piano or writing.
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Although he drank sparingly at lunch, he continued to drink steadily throughout the afternoon and evening; by his last years he was imbibing one or two bottles of cognac and two or three bottles of wine a day, as well as the occasional glass of absinthe. His contemporaries remember him as having a cheerful disposition, but Liszt obviously had his share of demons.
It would resemble nothing more than the inventory of a torture chamber. She always worked late at night, a habit she picked up as a teenager caring for her ailing grandmother, when the nighttime hours were her only chance to be alone and think.
She liked to nibble on chunks of chocolate at her desk, and she required regular doses of tobacco cigars or hand-rolled cigarettes to stay alert. But she did not subscribe to the idea of the drug-addled artist.
She wrote in her autobiography: It is said that some artists abuse their need for coffee, alcohol, or opium. The work of the imagination is exciting enough, and I confess I have only been able to enhance it with a dash of milk or lemonade, which would hardly qualify me as Byronic. Honestly, I do not believe in a drunk Byron writing beautiful verses. He ate a light dinner at 6: According to one estimate, he drank as many as fifty cups a day.
Balzac took a walk, had a bath, and received visitors until 6: Shortly after arriving on Guernsey, Hugo purchased Hauteville House—locals believed it was haunted by the ghost of a woman who had committed suicide—and set about making several improvements to the property.
This was the highest point on the island, with a panoramic view of the English Channel; on clear days, you could see the coast of France. There Hugo wrote each morning, standing at a small desk in front of a mirror.
He rose at dawn, awakened by the daily gunshot from a nearby fort, and received a pot of freshly brewed coffee and his morning letter from Juliette Drouet, his mistress, whom he had installed on Guernsey just nine doors down from Hauteville House.
Then he stepped out onto the rooftop and washed from a tub of water left out overnight, pouring the icy liquid over himself and rubbing his body with a horsehair glove. Townspeople passing by could watch the spectacle from the street—as could Juliette, looking out the window of her room.
At noon Hugo headed downstairs for lunch. Hugo welcomed almost everyone, writers collecting snippets for their future memoirs, journalists who came to describe M. After lunch he embarked on a two-hour walk or performed a series of strenuous exercises on the beach.
Later he would make his daily visit to the barber he insisted on keeping the trimmings in an unexplained act of superstition , go for a carriage ride with Juliette, and do more writing at home, often using the afternoon to answer some of the satchel- loads of letters that arrived each day.
At family dinners Hugo felt compelled to hold forth on philosophical subjects— pausing only to make sure his wife had not fallen asleep, or to write something down in one of the little notebooks he carried everywhere he went. Nothing is lost. Everything ends up in print. When one of his books appears, they find that all the notes they took have been published. First, he needed absolute quiet; at one of his houses, an extra door had to be installed to his study to block out noise.
And his study had to be precisely arranged, with his writing desk placed in front of a window and, on the desk itself, his writing materials—goose-quill pens and blue ink—laid out alongside several ornaments: He stayed there until 2: On an ordinary day he could complete about two thousand words in this way, but during a flight of imagination he sometimes managed twice that amount. Other days, however, he would hardly write anything; nevertheless, he stuck to his work hours without fail, doodling and staring out the window to pass the time.
Promptly at 2: Charles Darwin — When Darwin moved from London to the English countryside in , he did so not just to escape the bustle of city life and raise a family in more peaceful surroundings.
He was also harboring a secret—his theory of evolution, which he had formulated in private over the preceding decade but dared not unleash on the public yet. He became an expert on barnacles, ultimately producing four monographs on the creatures and earning a Royal Medal for his work in He also studied bees and flowers and wrote books on coral reefs and South American geology.
He suffered from stomach pains, heart palpitations, severe boils, headaches, and other symptoms; the cause of his illness is unknown, but it seems to have been brought on by overwork during his London years, and it was clearly exacerbated by stress.
As a result, Darwin maintained a quiet, monkish life at Down House, with his day structured around a few concentrated bursts of work, broken up by set periods of walking, napping, reading, and letter writing. He read his letters, then lay on the sofa to hear Emma read the family letters aloud. When the letters were done, Emma would continue reading aloud, switching to whatever novel she and her husband were currently working their way through.
Lunch with the family followed. Darwin usually drank a small amount of wine with the meal, which he enjoyed, but very carefully—he had a fear of drunkenness, and claimed to have only ever once been tipsy in his life, while he was a student at Cambridge. Then it was time for his letter writing, which took place by the fire, in a huge horsehair chair with a board placed across its arms.
If he had many letters to write, he would dictate them instead, from a rough copy scrawled across the backs of manuscripts or proofs. Darwin made a point of replying to every letter he received, even those from obvious fools or cranks. If he failed to reply to a single letter, it weighed on his conscience and could even keep him up at night. The letter writing took him until about 3: Often Darwin would fall asleep during this reading and, to his dismay, miss chunks of the story.
He came back downstairs at 4: Then he joined the family for dinner, although he did not join them in eating the meal; instead, he would have tea with an egg or a small piece of meat. Instead, he joined the ladies in retiring to the drawing room, where he played backgammon with Emma. Thus his days went for forty years, with few exceptions. He would join his family on summer holidays, and occasionally make short visits to relatives, but he was always relieved to get home and, otherwise, he refrained from making even the most modest public appearances.
He always gave one the impression of working with pleasure, and not with any drag. Perhaps the best one comes from a December letter he wrote to a friend shortly after the Melville family moved to Arrowhead, a one-hundred-sixty-acre farm in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts. There, the thirty-one-year-old author raised corn, turnips, potatoes, and pumpkins; he enjoyed working in the fields as a way to relieve the stress of writing six to eight hours a day.
Melville wrote: He was by then a few months into Moby-Dick, for which his Arrowhead workroom proved an ideal setting. Shutting himself in his room for most of the day, he read exhaustively and wrote a great deal, although he destroyed much of what he produced. As the years passed he fell into a daily routine that seldom varied during autumn and winter.
Each morning he wrote or read until it was time for the midday dinner; each afternoon he read or wrote or dreamed or merely stared at a sunbeam boring in through a hole in the blind and very slowly moving across the opposite wall. Once, apparently, he stationed himself on the long toll-bridge north of Salem and watched the procession of travelers from morning to night.
In Concord, where the Hawthornes settled after their marriage, he would stay alone in his study until the early afternoon. An hour later, he would head into the village to visit the library and the post office. By sunset, he would return home, and his wife would join him for a short walk to the river. They had tea, and then Hawthorne read aloud to her for one or two hours or more.
After nine, in his dressing-gown, still unwashed and undressed, with a tousled beard, Father came down from his bedroom to the room under the hall where he finished his toilet. If we met him on the way he greeted us hastily and reluctantly. We used to say: He did not eat anything after that until five in the afternoon. Later, at the end of , he began to take luncheon at two or three. We hardly saw him after that until dinner. According to Sergei, Tolstoy worked in isolation—no one was allowed to enter his study, and the doors to the adjoining rooms were locked to ensure that he would not be interrupted.
Before dinner, Tolstoy would go for a walk or a ride, often to supervise some work on the estate grounds. Sergei writes: At five we had dinner, to which Father often came late. After dinner he usually read or talked to guests if there were any; sometimes he read aloud to us or saw to our lessons. About 10 P. Before going to sleep he read again, and at one time he played the piano. And then retired to his bed about 1 A. Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky — In , Tchaikovsky rented a dacha in Maidanovo, a small village in the district of Klin, some fifty miles northwest of Moscow.
After years of restless wandering through Russia and Europe, the forty-five-year-old composer found his new living arrangement a wonderful relief. He woke early, between 7: Then he took his first walk of the day, lasting no more than forty-five minutes. After lunch he went for a long walk, regardless of the weather. In a letter to von Meck, Tchaikovsky provided a valuable glimpse of his process.
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The seed of a future composition usually reveals itself suddenly, in the most unexpected fashion. If the soil is favourable—that is, if I am in the mood for work, this seed takes root with inconceivable strength and speed, bursts through the soil, puts out roots, leaves, twigs, and finally flowers: I cannot define the creative process except through this metaphor.
All the rest happens of its own accord. It would be futile for me to try and express to you in words the boundless bliss of that feeling which envelops you when the main idea has appeared, and when it begins to take definite forms. You forget everything, you are almost insane, everything inside you trembles and writhes, you scarcely manage to set down sketches, one idea presses upon another.
Supper was at 8: Twain found those summers the most productive time for his literary work, especially after , when the farm owners built him a small private study on the property. His routine was simple: He liked to have an audience, and his evening performances almost always won their approval. On Sundays, Twain skipped work to relax with his wife and children, read, and daydream in some shady spot on the farm.
Whether or not he was working, he smoked cigars constantly. In those days he was troubled with sleeplessness, or, rather, with reluctant sleepiness, and he had various specifics for promoting it. Still later, on a visit I paid him at Hartford, I learned that hot Scotch was the only soporific worth considering, and Scotch whiskey duly found its place on our sideboard. One day, very long afterward, I asked him if he were still taking hot Scotch to make him sleep.
He said he was not taking anything. He had done the like with the like effect ever since. Alexander Graham Bell — As a young man, Bell tended to work around the clock, allowing himself only three or four hours of sleep a night. His wife, Mabel, forced him to get out of bed for breakfast each morning at 8: He was allowed to return to his study at When in the throes of a new idea, he pleaded with his wife to let him be free of family obligations; sometimes, in these states, he would work for up to twenty-two hours straight without sleep.
Such is our life. Wyeth — The American painter and illustrator woke at 5: Before painting he liked to settle his breakfast by writing a letter, which he often mailed right away, driving to the village post office in his station wagon.
He worked fast, sometimes completing an entire painting in only a few hours. When he broke for lunch at 1: Wyeth almost never worked under artificial light, so the daylight hours were precious to him. He hated to stop at the end of the day, often wishing he could start the next day immediately. The morning is the best time, there are no people around.
My pleasant disposition likes the world with nobody in it. Then there would be breakfast at 7: You get the garden planted. You get the roof fixed. You take the dog to the vet. You spend a day with a friend. Composing, however, was a different matter— Rachmaninoff could never seem to find as much uninterrupted time as he needed. Then lunch, and now I write you instead of working. Too little! Beginning in , he composed first drafts in pencil on ruled index cards, which he stored in long file boxes.
Since, Nabokov claimed, he pictured an entire novel in complete form before he began writing it, this method allowed him to compose passages out of sequence, in whatever order he pleased; by shuffling the cards around, he could quickly rearrange paragraphs, chapters, and whole swaths of the book.
Only after months of this labor did he finally relinquish the cards to his wife, Vera, for a typed draft, which would then undergo several more rounds of revisions. As a young man, Nabokov preferred to write in bed while chain-smoking, but as he grew older and quit smoking his habits changed. He described his routine in a interview: In the same interview, Nabokov elaborated on his daily schedule: I awake around seven in winter: Around eight: Then I work till lunch in my study, taking time out for a short stroll with my wife along the lake.
Then a stroll to a newsstand for the English papers, and dinner at seven. No work after dinner. And bed around nine. I read till half- past eleven, and then tussle with insomnia till one A.
By then, the self-styled Count Balthus Klossowski de Rola had ensconced himself in a palatial chalet in the Swiss Alps, where he lived a life of aristocratic refinement surrounded by his wife, his servants, and his cats. In the late morning or just after lunch, Balthus would head to his studio on the outskirts of the nearby village—walking with the aid of a cane or, later, being pushed in a wheelchair by his wife, Setsuko.
His painting day always began with a prayer, followed by hours of meditation in front of the canvas. Smoking was essential to this state: I am reminded of this habit in photographs from my youth. I intuitively understood that smoking doubled my faculty of concentration, allowing me to be entirely within a canvas. After an 8: Balthus particularly liked action films, Westerns, and operas. After waking at 6: Then he served his wife her morning coffee and, at 8: He arrived at the studio a short subway or taxi ride from home at 2: He usually returned home by 5: