There are a lot of idiosyncratic rituals described in Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work: How Artists Work.
These include Beethoven counting out exactly 60 beans for his morning cup of coffee and Benjamin Franklin starting his day with an “air bath” which basically involved sitting around naked. Jean Paul Sartre ingested ten times the recommended daily dose of Corydrane (amphetamine and aspirin). Igor Stravinsky stood on his head to clear his brain.
W.H. Auden believed that a life of “military precision was essential to his creativity,” and so this meant constantly checking his watch. “Eating, drinking, writing, shopping, crossword puzzles, even the mailman’s arrival— all are timed to the minute and with accompanying routines.”
These are some of the working habits of “some of the greatest minds of the last four hundred years,” Currey writes. All told, Currey has collected nearly 200 routines from writers, composers, filmmakers, philosophers, painters and scientists.
Of course, some rituals might be more effective than others in creating the right mindset for creativity, but there is “no one way to get things done,” Currey concludes.
So why not try an air bath one of these mornings, and see if it works for you.
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