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Daily Rituals: How Artists Work Hardcover – April 23, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 324 customer reviews

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Writers and artists are always asked about their process, including the crucial question, “How do you do meaningful creative work while also earning a living?” Currey set out to amass as much information as he could find about the routines “brilliant and successful” creators adopted and followed, and the result is a zestful survey of the working habits of “some of the greatest minds of the last four hundred years.” This zealous and judicious volume brims with quotes and fascinating disclosures about the vagaries of the creative life. Currey outs the habits of nearly 200 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. Maya Angelou writes sequestered in a “tiny, mean” hotel room. Marilynne Robinson confesses, “I really am incapable of discipline.” Currey’s compendium is elucidating and delectable. --Donna Seaman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307273601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307273604
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (324 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
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, presumably sifting through mounds of notes, interviews and books to capture the essence of the artists work habits. There are almost 30 pages of footnotes for this book. I took a lot of notes while reading this book and I will post the writing life tidbits out on my twitter feed as #authorfacts in the next few weeks.

In a purely unscientific assessment of these habits, I can present to you a summary of what I learned here:

Artists work first thing in the morning to get it out of the way early so they can go about their day. 113 out of the 161 artists profiled (or 70.2% of them) began work in the morning, and many of the the late-rising artists also began work as one of their first activities of the day in the afternoon or night time, but the overwhelming majority of artists woke in the morning and got to work within 2 hours of waking.

Most of them followed a strict daily work schedule working for a set number of hours, (typically anywhere from 3 to 6 hours) or until they hit a goal word count (usually 1000 to 1500 words).

Many artists drank or smoked to excess, all ultimately having a negative impact on their work. Another popular excess: coffee.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a fabulous book! It was a diligent work of love by Mr. Currey over a decade of research and writing.

The key take away for me was that all of these 166 very productive, very creative folks had routines. They were disciplined in their approaches, and they left lasting legacies.

In working with younger artists (and the occasional middle aged artist), I often hear the lament, "I can't produce art on a schedule! The Muse must move me!" This widely held misconception is probably why the word "starving" is so often associated with artists. :-D As moSt musicians will tell you, a knowledge of music theory enhances results.

I love this book. I am ordered several copies for the course I teach on engendering creativity.

Well done!

In service,

Rich
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a writer. Not as prolific as I wish, but still have published a few things. ( Relieving the Burden of Self on Kindle). I have huge issues with discipline and have struggled all my life with getting "down to it." Therefore, I grabbed this book like a life raft the minute I spotted it. Am I glad I did!
I decided to put a number system on each selection to help myself when I go back over it (as I KNOW I will!), for inspiration.
1 is ...ideas I'd never use. 5 is for ideas that seem absolutely perfect for me. I have done tons of underlining on many passages for
multiple reasons. There are "zingers" on nearly every page! (If a book makes me underline, its definitely worth owning.) That's why I buy most books. I can't underline library books.
One idea that was extremely helpful is by Morton Feldman: "...after you write a little bit, stop and then copy it. Because while
you're copying it, you're thinking about it, and its giving you other ideas." He learned this from John Cage. This is a system I will adopt at once!
The book is fun to read: partly history, part biography, part entertainment, but mostly inspirational.
I know that reading Daily Rituals will likely become part of my own Daily Ritual....so I can finally get down to the business
of writing...which is why I got this in the first place.
I think many people would enjoy it, whether or not they were writers, artists, musicians, poets, or movie directors....it provides a voyeur's eye showing the way many different types of people handle self-management.
A truly joyful book!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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 centered on the artist's daily rituals, or routines. You'll find many were early risers, but that others worked at night and slept in. Some used stimulants to help them work, while others didn't. Some adhered to rigid schedules, and others were much more haphazard with their approach to work. The one thing you can take away from this book for sure is that there is no one single best routine to creativity. The rituals and routines are as unique and different as the works the artists created.

However, another thing you can take away from this book is that those who created, did in fact make time to create and there was a lot of "butt-in-the-chair" time as we writers sometimes call it. (Except for those who wrote standing up.)

Not only did I find this book an enjoyable read, but a very motivating one as well. Reading about the rituals of other artists, especially some of those I've admired, motivated me to work on my projects even more. The author did an excellent job at researching the individual artists in this book, and included enough to make it a great read, but also to stimulate me to do further research on some of those profiled here.

Bottom line - I thought this book was outstanding.
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