Daily Rituals: How Artists Work (Anglais) Relié – 23 avril 2013
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Descriptions du produit
In that sense, this is a superficial book. It’s about the circumstances of creative activity, not the product; it deals with manufacturing rather than meaning. But it’s also, inevitably, personal. (John Cheever thought that you couldn’t even type a business letter without revealing something of your inner self— isn’t that the truth?) My underlying concerns in the book are issues that I struggle with in my own life: How do you do meaningful creative work while also earning a living? Is it better to devote yourself wholly to a project or to set aside a small portion of each day? And when there doesn’t seem to be enough time for all you hope to accomplish, must you give things up (sleep, income, a clean house), or can you learn to condense activities, to do more in less time, to “work smarter, not harder,” as my dad is always telling me? More broadly, are comfort and creativity incompatible, or is the opposite true: Is finding a basic level of daily comfort a prerequisite for sustained creative work?
I don’t pretend to answer these questions in the following pages— probably some of them can’t be answered, or can be resolved only individually, in shaky personal compromises— but I have tried to provide examples of how a variety of brilliant and successful people have confronted many of the same challenges. I wanted to show how grand creative visions translate to small daily increments; how one’s working habits influence the work itself, and vice versa.
The book’s title is Daily Rituals, but my focus in writing it was really people’s routines. The word connotes ordinariness and even a lack of thought; to follow a routine is to be on autopilot. But one’s daily routine is also a choice, or a whole series of choices. In the right hands, it can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self- discipline, optimism. A solid routine fosters a well- worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods. This was one of William James’s favorite subjects.
He thought you wanted to put part of your life on autopilot; by forming good habits, he said, we can “free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action.” Ironically, James himself was a chronic procrastinator and could never stick to a regular schedule (see page 80).
As it happens, it was an inspired bout of procrastination that led to the creation of this book. One Sunday afternoon in July 2007, I was sitting alone in the dusty offices of the small architecture magazine that I worked for, trying to write a story due the next day. But instead of buckling down and getting it over with, I was reading The New York Times online, compulsively tidying my cubicle, making Nespresso shots in the kitchenette, and generally wasting the day. It was a familiar predicament. I’m a classic “morning person,” capable of considerable focus in the early hours but pretty much useless after lunch. That afternoon, to make myself feel better about this often inconvenient predilection (who wants to get up at 5:30 every day?), I started searching the Internet for information about other writers’ working schedules. These were easy to find, and highly entertaining. It occurred to me that someone should collect these anecdotes in one place— hence the Daily Routines blog I launched that very afternoon (my magazine story got written in a last- minute panic the next morning) and, now, this book.
The blog was a casual affair; I merely posted descriptions of people’s routines as I ran across them in biographies, magazine profiles, newspaper obits, and the like. For the book, I’ve pulled together a vastly expanded and better-researched collection, while also trying to maintain the brevity and diversity of voices that made the original appealing. As much as possible, I’ve let my subjects speak for themselves, in quotes from letters, diaries, and interviews. In other cases, I have cobbled together a summary of their routines from secondary sources. And when another writer has produced the perfect distillation of his subject’s routine, I have quoted it at length rather than try to recast it myself. I should note here that this book would have been impossible without the research and writing of the hundreds of biographers, journalists, and scholars whose work I drew upon. I have documented all of my sources in the Notes section, which I hope will also serve as a guide to further reading.
Compiling these entries, I kept in mind a passage from a 1941 essay by V. S. Pritchett. Writing about Edward Gibbon, Pritchett takes note of the great English historian’s remarkable industry— even during his military service, Gibbon managed to find the time to continue his scholarly work, toting along Horace on the march and reading up on pagan and Christian theology in his tent. “Sooner or later,” Pritchett writes, “the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.”
What aspiring writer or artist has not felt this exact sentiment from time to time? Looking at the achievements of past greats is alternately inspiring and utterly discouraging. But Pritchett is also, of course, wrong. For every cheerfully industrious Gibbon who worked nonstop and seemed free of the self- doubt and crises of confidence that dog us mere mortals, there is a William James or a Franz Kafka, great minds who wasted time, waited vainly for inspiration to strike, experienced torturous blocks and dry spells, were racked by doubt and insecurity. In reality, most of the people in this book are somewhere in the middle— committed to daily work but never entirely confident of their progress; always wary of the one off day that undoes the streak. All of them made the time to get their work done. But there is infinite variation in how they structured their lives to do so.
This book is about that variation. And I hope that readers will find it encouraging rather than depressing.
Writing it, I often thought of a line from a letter Kafka sent to his beloved Felice Bauer in 1912. Frustrated by his cramped living situation and his deadening day job, he complained, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straight-forward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.” Poor Kafka! But then who among us can expect to live a pleasant, straightforward life? For most of us, much of the time, it is a slog, and Kafka’s subtle maneuvers are not so much a last resort as an ideal. Here’s to wriggling through.
W. H. Auden (1907– 1973)
“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,” Auden wrote in 1958. If that’s true, then Auden himself was one of the most ambitious men of his generation. The poet was obsessively punctual and lived by an exacting timetable throughout his life. “He checks his watch over and over again,” a guest of Auden’s once noted. “Eating, drinking, writing, shopping, crossword puzzles, even the mailman’s arrival— all are timed to the minute and with accompanying routines.” Auden believed that a life of such military precision was essential to his creativity, a way of taming the muse to his own schedule. “A modern stoic,” he observed, “knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”
Auden rose shortly after 6:00 a.m., made himself coffee, and settled down to work quickly, perhaps after taking a first pass at the crossword. His mind was sharpest from 7:00 until 11:30 a.m., and he rarely failed to take advantage of these hours. (He was dismissive of night owls: “Only the ‘Hitlers of the world’ work at night; no honest artist does.”) Auden usually resumed his work after lunch and continued into the late afternoon. Cocktail hour began at 6:30 sharp, with the poet mixing himself and any guests several strong vodka martinis. Then dinner was served, with copious amounts of wine, followed by more wine and conversation. Auden went to bed early, never later than 11:00 and, as he grew older, closer to 9:30.
To maintain his energy and concentration, the poet relied on amphetamines, taking a dose of Benzedrine each morning the way many people take a daily multivitamin. At night, he used Seconal or another sedative to get to sleep. He continued this routine— “the chemical life,” he called it— for twenty years, until the efficacy of the pills finally wore off. Auden regarded amphetamines as one of the “labor- saving devices” in the “mental kitchen,” alongside alcohol, coffee, and tobacco— although he was well aware that “these mechanisms are very crude, liable to injure the cook, and constantly breaking down.”
Présentation de l'éditeur
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”).
Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, magically inspiring.
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Au contraire, la routine libère le cerveau, il peut se consacrer à d'autres réflexions que des questions comme "que faire maintenant". Cet ouvrage amène à revoir ses idées préconçues sur la routine, les habitudes et peut donner des idées d'organisation et de gestion du temps à ceux qui pensent ne pas avoir de temps à consacrer à leur passion. En effet, beaucoup d'artistes cités dans cet ouvrage menaient une activité professionnelle à temps plein...
Quite well written, sometimes witty and always interesting
A book to read
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
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.
The one thing I wish this book would have done was to interview more contemporary authors, a lot of these artists are dead and from the 19th and early 20th century. Although the book contains some writers from the late 20th Century, the majority of these are of the Baby Boomer generation, and I'd be curious to see the daily rituals of Generation X or Millennial authors, and how they handle the distraction-rich, socially interconnected world of the 21st century. I think this information is out there and available, and maybe even easier to collect and write about, so I was disappointed that this wasn't captured.
I also couldn't figure out how the book was organized. The artists were not classified by the medium or subject area, and not in alphabetical or chronological order. The profiles seem to be completely random, and considering the audience for this book, I think it would have better been served by some sort of organizational structure to make it easier to look up a particular artist, time period or profession.
But the book is what it is. It is a solid, well-researched work of an obscure, somewhat academic subject, and although this is fascinating to a writer such as myself, I'm not sure the book can hold the interest of someone not specifically looking for this type of information, and I'm not sure it could hold the interest of writers and other artists not specifically interested in this aspect of the creative process.
Rating: *** Buy Used $17.46 Hardcover, or $12.99 Kindle eBook
About Ratings: ***** -- Well Worth it at Full Retail Price; **** -- Buy on Sale/Discounted; *** -- Buy Used; ** -- Borrow It from the Library; * -- Waste of a Good Tree
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.
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!
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. I had a lot of fun reading it, and will look to it again and again for motivation. I liked it so much that even though I have the advanced reader's copy from the Vine Program, I'm going to buy the hardcover when it is released.
Reviewed by Alain Burrese, J.D., author of Lost Conscience: A Ben Baker Sniper Novel and others.