The Routines of Great Creators

I just finished this book, which I couldn’t put down. It has summaries of how about 150 famous artists/scientists/creators do their work.

Here’s what I learned:

1) Almost without exception, all great creators have a serious daily routine. Many explicitly say some version of “Inspiration is for losers. It’s just about putting pen to paper.”

2) Most work somewhere between 2.5–4 hours per day in a focused way (i.e. without interruption in a studio/office/shack). Most have morning hours, followed by people who work in the dead of night to escape distraction. The rest of their time is spent with family, dealing with emails, etc.

3) They take their creating time very seriously and remove all distractions from the space. Many rely on short breaks, naps, and meditation to refuel and to solve creative problems.

4) While there are definitely drug-addled hedonists on the list, you get the distinct impression that the majority are actually more like quiet, diligent geeks.

5) About 70% are extremely anti-social: at least as far as cocktail parties, ceremonies and other usual time-wasters are concerned. They do spend time with spouses/kids in their homes though.

6) Many did not get serious about their creative rituals until quite late in life.

7) For those who lived/live in modern times, very few watch television and many obsess over controlling their email flows.