How To Be Creative
Writers and artists are always asked about their creative process. Brilliant and successful creators are known to have rituals that they go through day in and day out. These ‘disciplines’ help to motivate and inspire them to create great pieces of work. If you want to know how to be creative, we’ve got some expert advice for you.
In the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey set out to amass as much information as he could find about the routines to compile a meticulously researched book on the work habits of writers, composers, artists and other creative types.
This meticulously researched work on the work habits of writers, composers, artists and other creative types. He pulls this information from existing sources, biographies, autobiographies and personal journals.
How To Be Creative: The Artists Rituals
1. Alice Munro kept her writing a secret, writing when her oldest daughter was in school and her younger taking a nap. If she were interrupted by a neighbor during this time she simply visited with the neighbor. All her writing happened in snatched time.
2. Charles Schulz drew every single strip himself without the aid of an assistant. Six daily strips and a Sunday page totaling 17,897 strips. He did it by working seven hours a day, five days a week. Rising at daybreak, showering, shaving, waking his children, driving them to school in the family station wagon and finally home to begin his work.
3. 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.
4. Joseph Heller (Catch-22): “I gave up [writing] once and started watching television with my wife. Television drove me back to Catch-22. I couldn’t imagine what Americans did at night when they weren’t writing novels.”
5. Nikola Tesla typically worked from noon until midnight, breaking at 8:00 p.m. for dinner every night at the Waldorf-Astoria. Among the many peculiarities of this ritualized repast was his practice of not starting the meal until he had computed his dinner’s cubic volume, “a compulsion he had developed in his childhood.”
6. Truman Capote, who wrote lying down in bed or on a couch, refused to let more than two cigarette butts pile up in an ashtray and “couldn’t begin or end anything on a Friday.”
7. James Joyce, woke daily around 10:00 a.m. He’d lie in bed for about an hour, then get up, shave and sit down at his piano, where he’d play and sing before writing in the afternoon and then hitting the cafes later that evening.
8. After a stroll and breakfast alone, Charles Darwin would begin a 90-minute work session around 8:00 a.m. He’d break to read mail with his wife and then return to his study around 10:30 a.m. for a second session. By noon or so, he’d have completed what he considered his workday, but the rest of his waking hours were no less regimented. He responded to letters, read and rested at regular intervals until bedtime, which arrived daily around 10:30 p.m. “Thus his days went for forty years,” Currey writes, “with few exceptions.”
9. Nicholson Baker prefers to work just after waking. “The mind is newly cleansed but it’s also befuddled and you’re still just plain sleepy,” he told me in an interview. “I found that I wrote differently than.” Baker likes this feeling so much that he developed a strategy to squeeze two mornings out of one day. He will get up around 4 or 4:30 a.m. and write for an hour and a half—but then he goes back to sleep until 8:30 and gets up again, this time turning his attention to “daylight kind of work,”
10. Beethoven and Tchaikovsky loved their long walks. Beethoven went for a vigorous walk after lunch, and he always carried a pencil and a couple of sheets of paper in his pocket, to record chance musical thoughts.
Before sitting down to work in the morning, Tchaikovsky took a short stroll, lasting no more than 45 minutes. Then, after lunch, regardless of the weather, he went out again.
Read the other 161 stories in the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.
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