Mason Currey has been writing a fascinating series on Slate about the daily routines of creative people throughout history. Over the course of 15 articles he has looked at the eating habits, work process, social characteristics and other interesting information of some of the biggest names in creativity. A few insights:

  • Wake up early like Frank Lloyd Wright and complete the main creative task for the day, before other responsibilities and commitments steal your attention.
  • Be like French novelist George Sand and do the opposite of Wright, (she produced 20 pages of manuscript nearly every night of her adult life).
  • Drink espresso shots like mathematician Paul Erdös, who once said, “A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.”
  • Go for a 45 minute walk in the morning and a two hour stroll in the afternoon, like the composer Tchaikovsky.

The one idea that comes up continuously is to not wait for inspiration. As William Faulkner said, “I write when the spirit moves me, and the spirit moves me every day.” Use rituals to put you in the state of mind to work and then do so — every day.

  • Mario Martínez

    I’m not an expert, but I guess the quote about coffee is considered as misattributed. Seems that Alfréd Rényi said it first. Not a big deal.

    • Sean Blanda

      Thanks for sharing. I don’t see a source in Wikipedia, so we’ll leave in tact for now.

  • JP

    Yeah, I have 3 hours a day to walk.

    • JP

      THERE is always time for a walk. 🙂

  • Nick Hevelian

    Having read a biography of Erdos, I’d say it was something stronger than coffee in his case.

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