Work habits of the genius?
A book that explores the work habits of a large number of well known artists and writers and scientists found that almost all of them were unapologetic workaholics. The book, written by Mason Currey titled “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” goes into some detail of the work routines … here are some choice extracts
During his most fertile years, from the late 1920s through the early ’40s, Faulkner worked at an astonishing pace, often completing three thousand words a day and occasionally twice that amount. (He once wrote to his mother that he had managed ten thousand words in one day, working between 10: 00 A.M. and midnight — a personal record.) “I write when the spirit moves me,” Faulkner said, “and the spirit moves me every day.”
Sometimes the intensity of the work brings on strange physical reactions — her back goes out, her knees swell, and her eyelids once swelled completely shut. Still, she enjoys pushing herself to the limits of her ability. “I have always got to be the best,” she has said. “I’m absolutely compulsive, I admit it. I don’t see that’s a negative.”
His compulsiveness meant that he was astonishingly productive throughout his life — and yet, at age sixty-four, he could nevertheless write, “Looking back over a life of hard work … my only regret is that I didn’t work even harder.”
Musician Glenn Gould:
From the time he retired from public performances in 1961, when he was thirty-one years old, Gould devoted himself completely to his work, spending the vast majority of his time thinking about music at home or recording music in the studio. He had no hobbies and only a few close friends and collaborators, with whom he communicated mostly by telephone. “I don’t think that my life style is like most other people’s and I’m rather glad for that,” Gould told an interviewer in 1980. “[ T] he two things, life style and work, have become one. Now if that’s eccentricity, then I’m eccentric.”
Alexander Graham Bell:
As a young man, Bell tended to work around the clock, allowing himself only three or four hours of sleep a night… When in the throes of a new idea, he pleaded with his wife to let him be free of family obligations; sometimes, in these states, he would work for up to twenty-two hours straight without sleep.
“Today again from seven o’clock in the morning till six in the evening I worked without stirring except to take some food a step or two away,” van Gogh wrote in an 1888 letter to his brother, Theo, adding, “I have no thought of fatigue, I shall do another picture this very night, and I shall bring it off.”
Artist Chuck Close:
“Inspiration is for amateurs,” Close says. “The rest of us just show up and get to work.”