Creatures of habit

My life is quite routine-led, what with the rigid framework of school-age children, some business requirements and trying to write a minimum number of words per day. As a result I’m tuned in to pick up on details of other creatures of habit. For example, Roald Dahl did the same thing every day, as I was informed by the creative display in the Roald Dahl Museum. Here’s a small part of it:

dahl routine tree

(I almost want to draw and paint one of those trees for my own writing routines, but I realise it would be procrastination of the highest order.)

Two things I love on that tree: listening to The World at One and the Bloody Marys. I suppose that’s three things really.

Routine and habits are common threads running through the creative process; take a look at Oliver Burkeman’s recent piece in The Guardian, which drew on information from the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. In his book Currey looks at the routines of history’s brilliant creative minds, from Gertrude Stein and Alice Munro to Beethoven. Burkeman’s entertaining piece concludes with six top tips to creativity, summarised below:

1. Be a morning person (a good way to avoid interruption)

2. Don’t give up the day job (it makes you disciplined)

3. Take lots of walks (it’s good thinking time)

4. Stick to a schedule (by creating a habit, it’s one less thing to make a decision about before you start)

5. Practice strategic substance abuse (i.e. coffee, but in moderation)

6. Learn to work anywhere (beware procrastination dressed up as ‘needing the right environment to work’)

All this information about high-profile routines has made me feel better about the confines of mine. It’s all about defining things on your own terms. Any further tips on achieving creative brilliance gratefully received.

4 thoughts on “Creatures of habit

  1. Great article in the Guardian and I love Dahls routine. Wish mine involved more alcohol, especially martinis. With the dark mornings I have forgotten about getting up early to write, so thank you, its a reminder to just get up and get writing dark or not.

  2. Thanks for posting the link to the article Jan. lots of great stuff there. I’m planning to start rising early to write once Spring kicks in, to make some extra writing time as we approach the deadline for the MA.

    • It’s a good plan, Dan. I need to be burning the candle at both end at this stage as I’m up against it to nail that first draft and leave time for edits and rewrites. I’m still enjoying the challenge though 🙂

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