Daily Rituals

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mason Currey describes the daily rituals of Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, and other other great minds. In Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, he describes the routines that enable novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians to do the work they love to do.

Do you have daily rituals that help you get your work done? Share them—leave a comment below!


Mason Currey

Comments [24]

Victoria Rose from United States

Do not leave bedroom without giving thanks for my many blessings.
Showering, dressing, making bed.

Jun. 28 2013 03:09 PM

The ritualistic serving of coffee at a high end restaurant. It's a wonderful wait and the coffee is delish.

Jun. 20 2013 12:06 PM
Mindy Lewis from NYC

In his monograph "A Giacometti Portrait", James Lord described Giacometti's ritual of wiping out everything he'd painted at the end of each day's work, even if he was happy with what he'd done, to begin fresh the next day. What was supposed to be a two week sitting stretched into months...

Jun. 19 2013 01:05 PM
Brian L. from Brooklyn

One of the interesting things here is how so many of these rituals have to do with straight-up superstition. Creative people can be extremely superstitious -- instead of just trusting that their gift is part of how they relate to the world and can be called upon whenever they need it, so many feel the need to summon it somehow. When I started working on a novel, I had to drink two cups of coffee (leaving a third on the burner) and listen to Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" three times before I started writing. This gave me about the same results as when I would, say, bust out a notebook and start scribbling in order to look less pathetic while sitting alone in a bar.

There is, however, something to be said for routine. A while back, I quit my day job to write and record music all summer, but I found the days just slipping away until I took a dog-walking gig. It was easy: Walk a dog at 10 a.m., at 2 p.m., at 5 p.m. It doesn't take long to walk a dog, and it's usually not stressful at all. That gig got me out of bed in the morning, and those consistent time markers helped me move along with my music -- finish this or that before the next walk. And usually, all it took was for me to get started to remember how much I enjoy making music and to restore my faith in my ability to do it well, provided I just go ahead and DO it.

Jun. 19 2013 12:52 PM
John A

Selected Shorts: "He's at The Office" is brilliant on the daily ritual. It mimics Roz Chast. Still trying to find a copy.

Jun. 19 2013 12:41 PM
Pete Miser from Brooklyn, NY

I'm a Hip Hop artist. A few years ago I started a morning writing ritual I call the "Morning 16." When I'm engaged in the ritual, I write a 16 bar verse (the standard verse length in a hip hop song) before I do anything else in my day. If I have a 6:00 AM flight, I get up at 3:30 to make sure I write (and record) the verse. I don't consider this writing my work but an exercise to keep the gears oiled for the actual work that comes later in the day. The longest stretch I've done is a year and a half of writing a Morning 16 every day...including when I went camping!

Jun. 19 2013 12:41 PM
Christy from Brooklyn

I'm a photographer and my habit is not daily but comes in cycles. Work, work, work for 18 hours a day, then finally not able to work anymore I do next to nothing for a few days or weeks. In the end I work as much as other people do, but I can't seem to work as passionately without the manic nature of keeping this schedule.

Jun. 19 2013 12:38 PM
Adam from NJ

It is said that when John Cheever lived in New York would take his kids to school and then go to an office that he had made in the basement of his building and write in his skivvies.

Jun. 19 2013 12:37 PM
Jim B

Malcolm Lowry once described Thomas Wolfe as "homo scribens", who apparently wrote constantly. Does Mr. Currey have any anecdotes in this regard?

Jun. 19 2013 12:36 PM
Erik from SMITHTOWN, ny

I do sound and lighting production. I had the pleasure of working with Stanley Jordan once. His ritual was to dunk his hands into almost boiling water followed by ice water before he performed.

Jun. 19 2013 12:33 PM

As a fledgling writer with a family and day job, the closest I've got to a creative ritual is "OMG, I have a few minutes to write" and I make a bee line to the computer!

Jun. 19 2013 12:29 PM
antonio from baySide

Former graphic designer. I have ADD. Moved into the web development world. I have to force myself to finish...
Great show!

Jun. 19 2013 12:27 PM
tom from astoria

Pianting plein air, in front of nature or on the city street getting me going; I work best, The richness of the real world gets rid of all procrastination and hesitation. People watching doesn't matter, except that I won't stand there and do nothing -- its a kind of discipline

Jun. 19 2013 12:27 PM
Alexandra from Astoria

My early morning writing schedule will be disrupted this summer as my daughter's school ends and Camp Mommy takes effect.....any ideas without waking up too-too early since I am the primary care-giver and don't believe in the Nanny Culture to raise my child and I refuse to plop her in front of the TV?

Jun. 19 2013 12:26 PM
oscar from ny

Most humans are made of clay..some are made of fire, these fire ppl are called jinns they are madons artist musicians..they can make everything perfect but the lird of the universe likes to keep them in contempt ...just like solomon use them to help him build things..

Jun. 19 2013 12:25 PM
John from Annandale, NJ

I'm a painter, writer & musician, and all my life have never managed to create a ritual. It's all catch as catch can. I'm wondering if Mason has any suggestions for CREATING a ritual (and advice on how to stick to it)...

Jun. 19 2013 12:22 PM
JG from NYC

William Styron's Routine:

sleep until noon; read and think in bed for another hour or so; lunch with Rose around 1:30; run errands, deal with the mail, listen to music, daydream and generally ease into work until 4. Then up to the workroom to write for four hours, perfecting each paragraph until 200 or 300 words are completed; have cocktails and dinner with the family and friends at 8 or 9; and stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, drinking and reading and smoking and listening to music.

With Rose to guard the door, run the household, organize their busy social life and look after the children, Mr. Styron followed this routine over the next 30 years.

Jun. 19 2013 12:22 PM
tom from Astoria

In Gilot's" My Life with Picasso" she reports that the artist had to be lured out of bed in the morning with cigarettes and espresso, but at midnight he was " fresh as a rose." He said to her, "I understand why they execute prisoners at dawn. I just have to see the dawn and my head rolls."

Jun. 19 2013 12:17 PM
John A

My life as a programmer was sometimes sub-routine.

Jun. 19 2013 12:15 PM
Miscellaneous from NYC

I am one of those people who comes from a home in which both my parents were very regular in their habits and I am completely random. While I appreciate that each of my days is different from all the others, I think I might be more successful if I could learn/develop some habits. Any advice, or are we random folk doomed?

Jun. 19 2013 12:11 PM
Neil Friedman from Brooklyn NY

My daily routine begins at 3:25AM. I wake up put the kettle on low and go into the , still dark living room where I sit and meditate for 40 minutes. After which I put on a C.D. of Buddhist chanting and do 30 minutes of stretching exercises. By then the morning sky begins to brighten and the whistling kettle beckons me to make twoFrench Press pots of coffee, one for me and one for my wife. . .

Jun. 19 2013 10:18 AM
Ed from Larchmont

It's reality and not a ritual, but Mass every day ... beautiful. As Cardinal Dolan says of himself, 'I start my day with the morning Office and Mass ... whatever else happens, it's been a good day'.

Jun. 19 2013 08:04 AM
joyce mandell from nyc

I have a coffee ritual. No electric drip pots for moi! A Bialetti espresso pot, a small pan to warm the milk, and a Bodum milk frother. It takes time and attention to make a good cappuccino the old-fashioned way, and that ritual starts my day right.

Jun. 18 2013 11:06 PM
Lydia Kaplan

I spray on my perfume mid-afternoon. It's like a redux of daybreak optimism!

Jun. 18 2013 06:58 PM

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