Daily Rituals

On Monday, I talked about how having a daily schedule is a RITUAL that any self-respecting Lichtenbergian should invest in.  I'll give you one more example from my personal experience, then give you a reading assignment.

Several many years ago, I was a busy guy.  Besides my day job (media specialist), I was also working on my specialist degree, which as you might imagine was a lot of work.  I was also charged with composing William Blake's Inn for a possible international children's theatre event here in Newnan.  (Don't ask; it's not as exciting as it sounds.)

My solution was to create a schedule and stick to it: compose on Sunday mornings, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  I put that schedule in my laptop's calendar, and it would nag me to get to work.  It made sure that my mind was prepared to work—that's the purpose of RITUAL, after all, to create a change in you through structured repetition.  (Some might even call it HABIT, but there's more to it than that.)

Establishing a rigid schedule also protected my time: my family knew that during those times on those days, I was working.  They should not ask me to take out the trash or come watch the television show or to discuss the child's behavior at school.  Get all that done before I went upstairs to my study, or wait until I come back down.

It worked: I pushed through and finished the composition part of the job, then got it all orchestrated to boot.

These days I don't have looming deadlines for anything I compose, so I haven't felt the need for a schedule.  That was a huge mistake.  Without a schedule, I have to "feel inspired" to work, and we all know what a fallacy that is.

Anyway, don't take my word for it.  Read Daily Rituals: how artists work, by Mason Currey.

Currey provides you with 161 renowned creators and their daily rituals that helped them Make The Thing That Is Not, and it's a delightful read.  Some of these men and women are real weirdos—looking at you, Friedrich Schiller—but mostly the message is simple: Find a schedule that works for you and use it!

You'll read about people who work only in the morning; only between specific hours; only at night.  There are those who work by volume, not by time.  There are those who, dangerously, don't stick to a schedule.  Some can work anywhere; others have to have extremely specific surroundings and circumstances.

The point is that you can find something in this book that will make you think, "Yeah, that sounds right."  And when you do, STEAL FROM THE BEST.