Key Takeaways

– all artists consumed by work and need to get it off their chest
– strict routines
– mostly early morning routines
– sleep little and often have insomnia / troubles sleeping
– almost exclusively create in silence by themselves
– lots of them smoke and drink a lot
– plenty of constant ups and downs, moods, depression
– dedicated everything to work and often very unsociable

 


W H Auden
Poet
6am start – 11pm bed
very organised
chemical life – amphetamines and sedatives

 

Francis Bacon
Painter
super chaos
excessive eating and drinking
despite late parties always started painting first light – noon
slept very little
liked working with hangover

 

Simone de Beauvoir
had trouble not working and would get bored

 

Thomas Wolfe
Writer
standing desk
liked to write naked and touch himself beforehand

 

Patricia Highsmith
writer
absolut work addict – there was nothing outside of working
heavy drinker
mostly ate bacon eggs and cereal
weird obsession with snails

 

Federico Fellini
movie maker
claims he can’t sleep more than 3 hours

 

Ingmar Bergman
filmmaker
most times same lunch – some baby food with corn flakes

 

Morton Feldman
Composer
lives like a monk
important to have the right environment – the right chair
writes and copies it – whilst cooying you think

 

Ludwig van Beethoven
Composer
Coffee for breakfast with exactly 60 beans per cup
from dawn till 2-3pm with strolls outside
afternoon long walk with pen and pencil
simple dinner
would often throw buckets of water over him and sing for meditation and inspiration – water would go through the floor

 

Soren Kierkegaard
Writer
writing and walking
whilst walking best ideas
made hiss own coffee

 

Voltaire
Writer Philosopher
liked to work from bed
worked 18-20 hours a day

 

Benjamin Franklin
President
worked every week one of the 13 virtues marking when failed to make good moral a habit
Had a schedule but could often not follow it himself
Air baths – set 0.5-1h naked in room writing then back to bed

 

Anthony Trollope
Writer
no mercy every day start writing at 5.30am
paid someone extra to get him to do it
would work for 3hours religiously if finished novel would instantly start next one

 

Jane Austen
Writer
always a lot of people around the house
wrote but hid everything from strangers

 

Frederic Chopin
Composer
inspiration came suddenly from nowhere and then we really wanted to play it
then couldn’t decide if it’s right or wrong – torture
spent 6 weeks on one page

 

Gustave Flaubert
Writer
Wrote several hours at night because fewer distractions
Slow progress which tormented him
Work is the best way of escaping from life

 

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Painter
at nights in brothels
drank lots slept little

 

Thomas Mann
Writer
completely secluded from 9am-12pm

 

Karl Marx
Political Writer
No money management skills at all always poverty
If he would do it again he would work just as much but not marry

 

Sigmund Freud
Psychologist
Wife laid out clothes and put toothpaste on his brush – so he could solely focus on his work
he sometimes would be so focused he would eat a whole meal in silence
20 cigars a day
annual 3-month family vacation

 

Carl Jung
Writer
Writing during holidays
very simple lifestyle without electricity

 

Gustav Mahler
Composer
Composed on holidays
Complete isolation. Nobody allowed
Pen and paper – notes on walks

 

Richard Strauss
Composer
He compared his work to a cow giving milk – methodical and angst-free

 

Henri Matisse
Painter
Loved work
Models had to come in every day

 

Joan Miro
Painter
Lots of sport + routine
to not slip back to depression

 

Gertrude Stein
Writer
Partner did everything even brush poodles teeth
Looks and landscape and concentrates
only wrote 30mins a day

 

Ernest Hemingway
Writer
Immune to hangovers always woke up with first light
morning routine most important
standing desk

 

Henry Miller
Writer
Morning routine – crucial

 

F Scott Fitzgerald
Writer
Alcohol interfered with creation – heavy drinker
in army regular schedule to write afterward couldn’t self-organise

 

William Faulkner
Writer
was able to adapt various schedules
in solitude
up to 10k words a day

 

Arthur Miller
Writer
Wishes he had a routine
wrote, tore apart, wrote again

 

Benjamin Britten
Composer
Exact timetable
Work overtook everything

 

Ann Beattie
Writer
Best hours after midnight
Can’t force it – no schedules

 

Günter Grass
Writer
Daylight hour writing

 

Tom Stoppard
Playwriter
Chronic disorganization – wrote and smoked in the evenings

 

Haruki Murakami
Writer
4am write for hours then lots of sport
most important thing is routine

 

Toni Morrison
Writer
Had to write between 9-5 job
When sits down to work then work
in the car in transit in breaks broods over ideas

 

Joyce Carol Oates
Writer
lots of hours with a routine starting at 8am
1 page a day

 

Chuck Close
Writer
When he finds time to work never lacks ideas
Likes a bit of distraction – keeps him from being anxious and keeps things at arm’s length

 

Francine Prose
Writer
Used to have really rigid routine
once famous harder

 

John Adams
Writer
If you do things regularly don’t get writer’s block
Likes freedom in daily life to be spontaneous

 

Steve Reich
Writer
Hard continuous work to find inspired pieces

 

Nicholson Baker
Writer
Useful to have routines which feel fresh – can be artificial
Every book slightly different routine
Squeezes two mornings out of morning – 4am then sleep then 8.30am

 

B F Skinner
Psychologist
Treated writing like an experiment – start and end with a buzz
Had alarm set for midnight, 1am, 5am and 7am to write down ideas

 

Margaret Mead
Anthropologist
Got up at 5am – couldn’t bear empty periods
scheduled breakfasts with colleagues at 5am

 

Jonathan Edwards
Theologian
Wrote for 13h a day interrupted with physical activities
always pen and paper with him
Pinned ideas to part of clothes which he associated with it and wrote down once at home

 

Samuel Johnson
Composer
Most writing after 2am

 

James Boswell
Biographer
Routine but also depression

 

Immanuel Kant
Philosopher
Ordered regularity
Never going far from hometown
Bachelor whole life same things all life

 

William James
Psychologist
Habits and order – only then can advance in interesting fields
The more mindless tasks we can handover the more willpower for meaningful work

 

Henry James
Writer
Mornings
when finished book instantly started a new one

 

Franz Kafka
Writer
Full-time job
wrote at night time

 

James Joyce
Novelist
Afternoon writing
Latw night escapades to free mind

 

Marcel Proust
Writer
Withdrew from society
slept at day worked at night
Coffee ritual and ate hardly anything
Wrote lying down horizontally

 

Samuell Beckett
Playwriter
Scrambled eggs and long hours by himself
night time going out
Made his dark side work for him – depression

 

Igor Stravinsky
Composer
~3h/day
only when he knew no one could
hear him

 

Erik Satie
Composer
The same outfit a dozen times – Velvet Gentlemen
Walked long way into and out of Paris – 6miles one way
Took notes on walks

 

Pablo Picasso
Painter
Noone was allowed to enter studio
Worked 2pm to late
Often bad moods but actually just absorbed
Diet – mineral water milk grapes vegetables fish rice pudding
Got all his social interactions done Sundays
Never tired of painting

 

Jean-Paul Satre
Philosopher
3h/morning 3h/afternoon
Lots of drinking and smoking and pills (later taken off market cause toxic)

 

T S Eliot
Poet
9-5 banker
Wrote in the evenings
Friends wanted to subscribe to him to pay him so he doesn’t need to work

 

Dmitry Shostakovich
Composer
Never worked
Sat down at piano and just played
but preceded with hours of inner tensions
Composed to fast, he didn’t like it himself

 

Henry Green
Writer
Lots of money – double life office and writing
Job gave him stability and routine as Managing Director didn’t do much just drink

 

Agatha Christie
Writer
Didn’t have a table wrote anywhere she could

 

Somerset Maugham
Writer
Writing addiction
own requirement to wrote 1-1.5k words a day

 

Graham Greene
Novelist
Rented studio only he knew
Two books at the same time
Took drugs and wrote 2k words a day

 

Joseph Cornell
Writer
Worked at night after 9-5 job

 

Sylvia Plath
Poet
Best 5am before kids woke up

 

John Cheever
Writer
Best 5-6am
Strong sex drive which he believed was part of creativity

 

Louis Armstrong
Composer
Self-medicated which horrified doctors

 

W B Yeats
Poet
2h/day even if he didn’t want to

 

Wallace Stevens
Poet
Insurance job best thing – gave him regularity and routine

 

Kingsley Amis
Writer
Wrote afternoons
heavy drinking
bucket next to the bed to not have to go to the bathroom

 

Martin Amis
Writer
Every weekday business hours but actually about 2h/day

 

Umberto Eco
Novel
Thinking everywhere when just a few spare moments

 

Woody Allen
Filmmaker
Obsessive thinking, writing easy, filmmaking chore
Thinks in the cracks of spare time all the time
hot showers for inspiration

 

David Lynch
Filmmaker
Milkshake after lunch and 7 coffees with sugar
sugar rush lots of ideas jotted down on napkins
2x20mins meditations a day – every day

 

Maya Angelou
Write
Hotel room to write to have different environment

 

George Blanchine
Choreographer
most ideas during ironing

 

Al Hirschfeld
Caricaturist
Work routine by himself apart from phone

 

Truman Capote
Writer
Writes in bed

 

Richard Wright
Writer
up to 15h/day

 

H L Mencken
Writer
write 12-14h a day every day
Compulsive workaholic
Didn’t allow himself free time

 

Philip Larkin
Writer
Work all day and half drunk at night

 

Frank Lloyd Wright
Architect
Worked from 4-7am
Only drew sketch once he finished the design in his head

 

Louis I Kahn
Architect
Worked day and night
his employees inspired and intimidated

 

George Gershwin
Composer
Worked all the time
even after parties

 

Joseph Heller
Writer
Evenings after work
very slow – 8 years for a book

 

James Dickey
Poet
Worked on poems at work
he was smart and got all his work done quickly so he could work on poems

 

Nikola Tesla
Inventor
10.30am to 5am best with window blinds down
he would always first calculate cubic dimension of food otherwise could not enjoy food

 

Glenn Gould
Pianist
anti-germs and relationships
retired from social interactions
worked all night
played only an hour a day playing piano
read lots
rambled and called lots for a long time
fasting makes the mind sharper

 

Louise Bourgeois
Writer
insomnia – work at night therefore

 

Chester Himes
Writer
Get up early and just write

 

Flannery O’Connor
Writer
Terminal diagnosis – routine key for survival
6am start

 

William Styron
Writer
In bed till noon then write at 4pm

 

Philip Roth
Writer
writing is a nightmare
writing is always a beginning there’s no end

 

P G Wodehouse
Writer
woke up 7.30 work at 9am
1k-2.5k words per day

 

Edith Sitwell
Writer
legend has it she sat in a coffin before started work
she did like to write in bed

 

Thomas Hobbes
Writer
7am wake and walk and meditate
10am start

 

John Milton
Poet
was almost blind
4am start – 9pm bed

 

Rene Descartes
Philosopher
sleep until 11am
later court of the queen in Sweden start at 5am and died a month later

 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Writer
could write all day later only mornings
moods biggest problem couldn’t work uninspired

 

Friedrich Schiller
Poet
Rotten apples in room to give him urge to write
just wrote at night

 

Franz Schubert
Composer
6am to 1pm

 

Franz Liszt
Composer
4am even if party night before
Morning routine writing and letters
Lunch nap
1-2 bottles of cognac and 2-3 bottles of wine a day

 

George Sand
Novelist
20 pages every night

 

Honore de Balzac
Writer
1-8am writing
90 mins nap
9.30-4pm writing
50 cups of a coffee a day
4-6pm visitors
7pm bed

 

Victor Hugo
Poet
Rose at dawn on exiled island
wrote until 11am
saw guests and invited
published all his notes which he took all the time

 

Charles Dickens
Novelist
super quiet – had an extra door installed to cancel noise
certain arrangement
desk at window – on desk exact arrangement of quill statues vase etc
super organised and punctual
7am rise
8am breakfast
9am write
lunch short barely speaking in trance
2pm walk
6pm dinner and family
wrote mornings 0-2k words a day but was in his study anyway

 

Charles Darwin
Scientist
double life
expert on barnacles royal medal
secret theory
poor health
monkish lifestyle
8am 90 mins work
10.30am 90 mins work
did lots of walks

 

Herman Melville
Writer
6-8h a day
farm work to relieve stress

 

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Writer
secluded himself to write
did not much else but write

 

Leo Tolstoy
Writer
wrote every day
ate breakfast and then not until dinner
between he was by himself writing
dinner more sociable breakfast didn’t talk

 

Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky
Composer
7am rise chill read tea
9.30 Piano
12- lunch
walk
5pm 2h work

 

Mark Twain
Writer
Summers in summer home most productive
Morning hearty breakfast and work until 5pm dinner
Evening he read his work to family
constant cigars smoking
sleeplessness

 

Alexander Graham Bell
Scientist
3-4h sleep when young
worked all the time
later wife forced 8.30am breakfast
and a couple of hours after dinner at 7pm
then he went back to work at 10pm

 

Vincent van Gogh
Painter
7am to 6pm work nothing else

 

N C Wyeth
Painter
5-6.30 chop wood
fast painter – daylight precious and worked

 

Georgia O’Keeffe
Painter
Dawn riser
walk and kill rattlesnakes
7am breakky
housework fun but always wanted to go back to work
early dinner 4.30pm

 

Sergey Rachmanioff
Pianist
2h a day practice
but composing took the most day

 

Vladimir Nabokov
Novelist
He knew the entire novel before writing it
mostly in bed smoking and working

 

Balthus
Painter
Painter daily since age 12 when he published book with 40 paintings
smoked whilst painting

 

Le Corbusier
Architect
6am work
8am breakky
mornings painting for fun
work 2-5.30pm

 

Buckminster Fuller
Architect
experimented with sleeping and routine became 30 mins sleep every 6 hours
could go to sleep within 30 seconds
didn’t last forever as wife complained

 

Paul Erdos
Mathematician
numbers monk
gave away all money and lived super simple
mother did everything for him
3h of sleep
worked all the time even during meals on napkins
took lots of amphetamines
for a month he stopped as friend challenged him – didn’t get anything done
continued afterward + coffee
“Mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems”

 

Andy Warhol
Painter
Every weekday morning phone call with 1 friend to tell him about yesterday 1-2hours
took notes for tax purposes initially
office 1-3pm
all presents and fan mail went into the box with “interesting items”
1% kept for himself or given away
1-2 hours chatting to employees
evening paint

 

Edward Abbey
Writer
Between books vacations for months
writing hiding in a shack for 4-5h a day

 

V S Pritchett
Writer
morning writing afternoon 2h
lunch martini

 

Edmund Wilson
Writer
heavy drinker
always start 9am – 3/4pm
setting goals every day and stick with them

 

John Updike
Writer
3-4h a day in rented office
not Sundays
busy life as a professor too

 

Albert Einstein
Physicist
9-10am breakky and newspaper
11-1pm work
1.30pm lunch nap and coffee
rest working at home + correspondence

 

L Frank Baum
Writer and florist
8am breakky
4-5 cups of coffee
Morning devoted to flowers
1pm writing but not for long

 

Knut Hamsun
Writer
pen and paper always with him even in bed

 

Willa Cather
Writer
doesn’t work too long to make it an adventure rather than torture
Mornings best

 

Ayn Rand
Writer
Fueled by drugs against fatigue
wrote chapter a week
wrote day and night sometimes didn’t sleep for a couple of days just had naps

 

George Orwell
Writer
7am wake up
8.45am shop open
9.45am – 2pm free
2-6.30pm shop
4.5 hours writing a day morning and afternoon

 

James T Farrell
Novelist
relied on drugs
worked 20-24h straight
valium to sleep
called wife all the time

 

Jackson Pollock
Painter
drank a lot
the less he drank the more he painted

 

Carson McCullers
Novelist
husband wife deal one works full-time other writes and switch every year
but always ended up being Carson writing
he always worked

 

Willem de Kooning
Painter
trouble getting up lots of coffee
10-11am wake up
trouble with painting couldn’t sleep

 

Jean Stafford
Writer
compulsive housekeeper
11.00-3pm write

 

Donald Bartheime
Writer
routine with the wife who worked 2 jobs
8/9am-1pm write
smoked constantly

 

Alice Munro
Writer
wrote in between of attending kids and housekeeping
kept writing secret

 

Jerzt Kosinski
Writer
4h sleep afternoon
4h sleep dawn

 

Isaac Asimov
Writer
5am wake up work as long as he can into night
every day no holidays

 

Oliver Sacks
Physician
5am wake up
Swim bug breakky
Piano music

 

Anne Rice
Writer
switched schedules a couple of times
4h writing a day

 

Charles Schulz
Comic drawer
7h a day 5 days a week to deliver
paper ideas write

 

William Gass
Writer
serious writing in the morning
writes best when angry

 

David Foster Wallace
Writer
hugely mood dependent

 

Marina Abramovic
Performance artist
stayed 11 weeks for 7h/day for 6d/week in museum and stared people in their eyes
trained herself to not drink nor eat nor bathroom for 7h and drink at nighttime

 

Twyla Tharp
Writer
5.30qm wake up and taxi to gym
the ritual is getting into cab
completes ritual and she has to train

 

Stephen King
Writer
doesn’t let himself quit until written 2k/day
8am-1.30pm

 

Marilynne Robinson
Writer
no discipline

 

Saul Bellow
Writer
stayed at home with kids

 

Janathan Franzen
Novelist
him and gf stocked up on rice and chicken and only ate out one time a year on their anniversary

 

Maria Kalman
Designer
6am wake up
6pm max then relax and sleep

 

Georges Simenon
Novelist
6.30-9.30 write every day
virtually didn’t do revisions
always same clothes
extreme curiosity slept with 1200 women

 

Stephen Jay Gould
Biologist
works all the time
its just his life
intellectual energy

 

Bernard Malamud
Novelist
compulsively prompt
5 hours a day of writing

 

 

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