By: Mason Curry
Book Overview: Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “Time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.” Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks. Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, magically inspiring.
“There’s no one way — there’s too much drivel about this subject. You’re who you are, not Fitzgerald or Thomas Wolfe. You write by sitting down and writing. There’s no particular time or place — you suit yourself, your nature. How one works, assuming he’s disciplined, doesn’t matter. If he or she is not disciplined, no sympathetic magic will help. The trick is to make time — not steal it — and produce the fiction. If the stories come, you get them written, you’re on the right track. Eventually everyone learns his or her own best way. The real mystery to crack is you.” ~ Bernard Malamud, via Daily Rituals
“Like your private bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream. Your schedule — in at about the same time every day, out when your thousand words are on paper or disk — exists in order to habituate yourself, to make yourself ready to dream just as you make yourself ready to sleep by going to bed at roughly the same time each night and following the same ritual as you go. In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives. And as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night —six hours, seven, maybe the recommended eight — so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction.” ~ Stephen King, via Daily Rituals
“I’ve never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again.” ~ John Updike, via Daily Rituals
“Creativity is often misunderstood. People often think of it in terms of artistic work – unbridled, unguided effort that leads to beautiful effect. If you look deeper, however, you’ll find that some of the most inspiring art forms – haikus, sonatas, religious paintings – are fraught with constraints.” ~ Marissa Mayer, via Talk Like TED
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” ~ Zen Poetry
“The man, the art, the work: it is all one.” ~ Eugen Herrigel
“We were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted to battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.” ~ Robert Ardrey via Acts of God
The other day I went to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
It had been years (probably closer to a decade) since I had been to the Albright-Knox (or to any art museum for that matter), and I wanted to spend some time with other people’s masterpieces.
I felt like I was in a rut and that I was seeing the same art and inspirations on the same platforms day in and day out.
I wanted to re-frame my thinking and step outside of my normal zone with the hope of creating new connections in my brain that might inspire my next move with my own art.
What’s interesting is that I found myself surprisingly distant and disconnected from the pieces in the exhibit.
As I walked piece to piece, my thoughts were roughly as follows: Continue reading
“I am an artist at living – my work of art is my life.” ~ Suzuki