Daily Rituals

Daily Rituals

How Artists Work

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Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, "time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers."

Kafka is one of 161 inspired--and inspiring--minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up in the kitchen, the top of the refrigerator as his desk, dreamily fondling his "male configurations". . . Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin), ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day . . . Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep through woods, gardens, and enchanted palaces where he experienced "every pleasure imaginable."

Here are: Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words (250 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 . . . George Balanchine, who did most of his work while ironing . . . Leo Tolstoy . . . Charles Dickens . . . Pablo Picasso . . . George Gershwin, who, said his brother Ira, worked for twelve hours a day from late morning to midnight, composing at the piano in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers . . .

Here also are the daily rituals of Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky (he was never able to compose unless he was sure no one could hear him and, when blocked, stood on his head to "clear the brain").

Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf.
Copyright Date: c2013.
ISBN: 9780307273604
Characteristics: xvii, 278 p :,ill ;,20 cm


From the critics

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Nov 11, 2018

A mere recount of random dairy notes, this book is just a glimpse of how many artists worked, rather than their daily routines or rituals. I'm writing "how they worked" because they rarely wrote about their day to day rituals and uses. The author makes a superficial work of copying and pasting several extracts from biographies, autobiographies, interviews, notes, etc. This is not a research neither it intends to be as the author mades it clear: "this is a superficial book. It’s about the circumstances of creative activity, not the product".

The first chapters (or artists) are worthwhile reading; the text starts to diminished in terms of quality as pages are turned over. I recommend you to read instead the classic philosophers instead for great advice on routines, ideas and integral wellbeing.

Jul 01, 2018

Not enough women represented.

Amy_MarkhamPL Dec 08, 2016

An easy, eye-opening look at the creative processes of great artists throughout history. Although everyone works differently and some are quite unhealthy, all the artists covered in this book have in common an overwhelming urge to produce.

Dec 05, 2014

Charming, brief, random comments from artists of all types, though mostly writers, on how they do their work. Some are very ritualistic, doing the same thing every morning or they can't work at all. Others are very free-wheeling. One of my writing instructors suggested we had to write at the same time every day. My life is way too chaotic for that. Maybe that's why I'm not published! This book was quite enlightening. Most of the authors I've read are very disciplined, whatever that discipline is. They may only have an output of 100 words a day, but they stick to it.

Dec 17, 2013

This book introduces the reader to a variety of artists -- largely writers. You will learn interesting details such as sleep patterns, breakfast and general meals, social routines, and what "routine" made each creative person work the best.

As a budding artist, this book made me feel closer to home. All people portrayed share the will to art but are vastly different -- there is a good message here that you should follow your natural path. I enjoyed reading about the shared human weakness of fooling ourselves into believing we can force our selfs to be other than who we naturally are.

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