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Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  6,797 ratings  ·  642 reviews
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, nove
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Knopf
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Every creative person follows a different path to chase their muse, but at the same time some definite patterns emerge in the lives of these artists. (The people in this book are the sort that are known by just their last name — Proust, Darwin, Picasso, Descartes, Tchaikovsky, Pollock, Faulkner, Twain etc.)

Here are some things that highly creative people gravitate towards:

1. lots of coffee!
2. working hard but, surprisingly often for only a short burst of time. Many writers only work
Emma Sea
As Daniel noted, this isn't a book you read, as much as sample from time to time.

A few things seemed to be commonalities:

Work every day: don't wait for "inspiration"

The women all had to fit creative work around housework and childcare as well. Ugh, been there.

Avoid alcoholism!

Almost everyone struggles to get up as early as they planned in the morning.

Keep your day job if you are not already making a full-time living from writing - bonus points for utilizing work time and supplies for your own w
Sep 15, 2013 Kelsey rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
I love getting a peek into the lives of writers, artists, scientists, etc. to learn of their everyday routines. This book is not one to read straight through. I enjoyed the flexibility of reading bits here & there.
However, I have one major and one minor complaint. The major complaint is: where are the women? It seemed that 80 - 90% of this book was a sausage factory. Very off-putting. Inexcusable.
The minor complaint is one of author interjection. When discussing an aspect of Simone de Beau
Inna Swinton
This is a fun book that you can pick up and put down at your leisure and still enjoy a lot. Perfect for reading on the subway! Also - I learned a lot about habits of creative people - both good and bad. Most loved coffee and had hours during which they cannot be disturbed by family members (if they worked from home). Most importantly - you can feel inspired because so many very effective authors wrote for only 2 - yes, that's two hours a day! Yes, they spent other time on business - corresponden ...more
Here's my daily ritual, for those keeping tabs:

My alarm goes off at 5:00 am, at which time I wake just long enough to take my medicine: Benzedrine. Then I "sleep" for another hour, until my alarm goes off at 6:00 am; at this time, I am ready to rock and roll. I spend 25 minutes in the bathroom doing various bathroom acts, and I'm out the door by 6:38 am to walk to my writing studio where my pet sloth, Salvatore, meets me at the door. (This is also where he left me the night before, which makes m
I've always been fascinated by daily rituals/routines people have, just like I like to see what their homes look like, and what's on their bookshelf/ves. This books compiles together routines from authors, artists, artchitects, psychologists, those of math/physics world and perhaps some others. There's much variety between how their spend their days, with some interesting details (at least two do handstands to help their work, one liked to look at cows and one liked to wash hands a lot and sing ...more
2.5 stars.

A collection of interesting and not-so-interesting anecdotes about famous artists' daily routines. Spawned from his blog about writers' daily routines, Mason Currey has expanded his original into this book to include artists from all mediums, including writers, painters, architects, dancers, choreographers, photographers, and more.

Because these are simply retellings about a person's work habits, the format grows old quickly. One can only read so many "I wake up early and begin writing
Probably the kind of book you should keep next to your bed, or, if you're that kind of person (and I am), in the bathroom, for occasional reading. A wonderful cross section of artists included here, from writers to inventors, architects to painters, and philosophers to composers. While there was a certain number of artists for whom Benzedrine popping helped get the work done, there we just as many who required nothing more than the same breakfast daily (eggs seem to be a favorite). I was struck ...more
Gregor Xane
I love reading about the daily routines of artists and the like, so it was pretty nice to find this book. What I learned about the work habits of the painters, composers, writers, and philosophers covered in this volume is that many of them:

1. Drank lots of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages
2. Smoked lots of tobacco
3. Took long walks
4. Popped uppers to get going and downers to get to sleep
5. Got up early for a few hours of concentrated work (and then dicked around for the rest of the day)

I also
Amanda Roper
I certainly give this book five stars for how interesting it is and the level of research it must have taken to assemble the over 150 different “daily rituals” into one volume.


This book absolutely pissed me off and I haven’t sworn at a book in quite a long time. This book is a freaking sausage fest. There are over 150 creators profiled in this book and only 26 women are represented. What. the. f*ck? There are also very few people of color or from non-American/European countries and nearl
Jayne Bowers
When I picked up this book and began leafing through it, the first thing I read was a quote by Phillip Roth who said,"Writing isn't hard work, it's a nightmare." Amused, I thumbed though it until I came across a sketch of psychologist William James who wrote The Principles of Psychology, a two-volume work often referred to as "the Jimmy." The founder of functionalism, James was a big believer in habits, so I was a bit surprised to learn that he "kept no regular schedule, was chronically indecisi ...more
Alain Burrese
As an author, I found “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey thoroughly fascinating, engaging, and entertaining. I had a great time reading this little gem of a book. I would recommend it to any writer, artist, or creative person.

It's a simple book that contains over 150 short profiles of famous artists. Some of these may only be a half page in length, while the longest of them might take 2-3 pages. All of them contain interesting facts about the person being profiled, with a theme ce
Like eating peanuts...I kept turning the page for one more entry, then one more, then one more.

It was fun to learn little details about the lives of writers and artists. I've always been a sucker for seeing how others live the moments of their lives.

My favorite lines come from Matisse: "Basically, I enjoy everything; I am never bored."

And William Dean Howells on Mark Twain: "There were few experiences of life, grave or gay, which did not amuse him, even when they wronged him."

And Willa Cather,
John Spillane
Part of me says check this out for yourself if you are at all curious, and part of me thinks do yourself a solid and avoid this borefest at all costs. It's short, but you know it's boring when your creative heros really have nothing to say about their routine.

Highlights: Einstein was always nice to autograph/photohounds, Louis Armstrong smoked weed everyday and never drank.

The Slog: Pretty much 80% of pre 1990s productive creatives used amphetamines, seriously name somebody, all drank coffee. Wo
Gemma Correll
Good book, but 27 featured female artists out of a total of 161 is a bit rubbish...
Elizabeth A
Book blurb: 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.

This is a fun book to dip in and
Michael Wilson
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey (Editor)

This book is a hard one to review because of what it is. This is a 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. If you are looking for this type of detailed information, than this book easily could merit a five star review. Currey does a great job presenting this information, presum
Michael Meeuwis
First, the good news: regardless of your writing habits (extreme activity, extreme inactivity, amphetamines), you will find an artist in here whose work habits--or at least purported work habits--agree with you. That "purported" hints at the book's problems, though: in giving a quick and shallow account of many artists, it makes the sort of extraordinary mistake of taking them all at their word. It feels under-researched. Also, you realize that all of these writers are--for the most part--drawin ...more

Well I lost this book, it's from the library, I hope it turns up. I
read half of it ,it's simple the reader learns the daily habits of artists and other famous figures, such as David Lynch who loves a ton of sugar in his coffee and pie, Samuel Beckett, Knut Hamsun, Benjamin Franklin who sat outside nude on damp mornings, and a bunch more famous people, over 100 which I can't recall since I lost the fucking book!!!!!! and every single one of them drinks coffee!!!!! and most, gasp, are morning peo
Andrea Marley
I do very well with structure. I am not good at creating structure. When my life is structured, I flourish. How do people create structure! arghhhhhhhh

This book is a treat! At first I read every single artists' Modus Operandi. Later in the book, I only picked people I have heard of.

What a very cool and creative idea for a book, quick read.

* I was very excited to learn that many artists are early morning workers.
* I think a common block of time to set aside for art is 3 hours. I lov
Lauren Hawkins
I enjoyed reading one daily ritual a day and learning about some of my inspirations! This would also work great as a coffee table book in the way that it is intriguing enough for guests to take a look through. This book influenced me to create my own daily ritual!
ana fikir: tüm büyük eserlerin yazarları/çizerleri/bestecileri her şeyi rutine bindirdikleri çalışma düzenleriyle başarmışlar.

kendime not: kaldır kıçını da çalış. hayal kurmakla yazılmıyor o kitap!
Daily Rituals by Mason Currey is incredibly fantastic, offering a peek into the lives (and perhaps minds) of great cultural figures. The project started as a blog, so it has that same short, easy-reading format. The book covers authors, composers, poets, artists, scientists, mathematicians, inventors, and filmmakers; and the huge variety in how different people create. Some toil waiting for inspiration, others chug ahead day after day. There are early risers (like W.H. Auden who said, “Only the ...more
Jim Dooley
A recommended read for anyone who has ever thought, "Why can't I be creative?"

After reading the "daily rituals" of many creative people, the answer soon becomes clear that talent is developed through a creative strategy. For most of the artists mentioned, this came in the form of set times to create every day. Perhaps they spent the time thinking about the project, composing only a bar or two, or finishing with one useable sentence...but, the time spent brought them that much closer to completio
tiap pekerja seni, juga siapa saja yang harus menulis atau merumuskan ide-ide segarnya, sering berhadapan dengan situasi yang membingungkan: gimana membangun kebiasaan yang produktif?

buku ini mengumpulkan kebiasaan harian para pekerja seni, juga arsitek, yang membuat mereka produktif menghasilkan ciptaan mereka.

ini adalah kumpulan kisah pribadi-pribadi yang berani berbeda. yang juga berani memutuskan bagaimana kebiasaan hariannya sendiri.

membaca buku ini, tentunya juga bukan dimaksudkan untuk me
An interesting compilation of daily habits, rituals and routines of some of the famous artists, but not all of them are, as said in the title. Some of the unique habits are well known ( Kant taking his daily walk at 3 PM , Proust eating just one croissant the whole day) while some are new to me (Warhol dictating his diary over the phone) slice-reading it at tea or to take a break from other activities. I liked that the book is composed with references and in prose than in a list form.

Overall a
An inspiration, a comfort, and a cudgel for any creative person. This is a quick read, but packed with a wide variety of accounts of how people get their work done. Bernard Malamud summed it up: "There's no one way. . . . The real mystery to crack is you."
Elly Sands
This is definitely an interesting book for artists to read. It's the kind of book you pick up now and then in between other books you are reading. It is so fascinating to learn the daily routines of what helps various artists move along their path of creating. Stimulants like coffee play a huge part, liquor, daily walks,long showers, solitude and even the smell of rotten apples(poet Friedrich Schiller),laying prone,standing up or whatever it takes to get the writer, painter, composer etc to acco ...more
I really enjoyed this book! It was probably more enjoyable to me than it would be to most people as I'm an artist myself, but I think most folks would find it interesting. A lot of very prolific artists are profiled (the term "artist" refers to visual artists, writers, composers, choreographers, etc.) - a simple relaying of their daily routines - all backed up by historic references. Just the facts, no insights given, which is exactly how I wanted it to be =) I was pleased that many people I adm ...more
Glo Sollecito
What I liked is that this book prompted me to think about my own routine and rituals. It was also interesting to see what great creatives have in common. I discovered a few new people so it was a good jumping off point for some I wanted to learn more about. It did eventually get a little monotonous but overall a clever unique little book that I would recommend to introspective creatives of all types.
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Mason Currey is the author of the forthcoming book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, to be published by Knopf on April 26. He was born in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Currey’s writing has appeared in Slate, Print, and Metropolis, where he was an editor for six years. He lives in Los Angeles.
More about Mason Currey...

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“A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.” 6 likes
“The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” 3 likes
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