Daily Rituals

“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” –Chuck Close

In Mason Currey’s wonderful new book “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” I looked for people whose day started as early as mine (I have found a way to arise reliably at 3:30). None’s quite did, but some came close.

Before 6:00 (as early as 4:00):

Anthony Trollope–5:30 at desk

Ernest Hemingway–5:30 (first light)

Haruki Murakami–4:00


Margaret Mead–5:00

Jonathan Edwards–4:00 or 5:00

Immanuel Kant–5:00

John Cheever–5:00


George Balanchine–before 6:00

Edith Sitwell–5:30-6:00


John Milton–4:00 (5:00 in winter)

Franz Liszt–4:00


N. C. Wyeth–5:00

Oliver Sacks–5:00

My own strategy has been this, from time to time: I doze off at 8:30 or so, then resurrect at 11:30 with an espresso. I can print with mental clarity from midnight to 2:00, accompanied by the all-night jazz radio show. The prints wash on a trickle until I re-resurrect (by 4:00) for the school day. When there’s a believable deadline, it works. For me.

UPDATE: Ms. Markoe has discovered on her own the benefits of the early hours: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/how-i-stopped-procrastinating/

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