Creating rituals for creativity time

When it comes time for you to create, whether a first draft or fine-tune edits, a brainstorm session or a final edit, how do you do it?

Some of the most famous artists, authors, painters and performers have shared their rituals for creation - to inspire, spur on (or maybe intimidate) those who would hope to follow in their footsteps.

Of course there is always advice about getting up super-early (and this graphic suggests that is wholly unnecessary), or spending long hours, or always using a certain pen. But what you might find is that everybody has their own methods.

Georgia O’Keeffe told an interviewer in 1966 “I like to get up when the dawn comes. The dogs start talking to me and I like to make a fire and maybe some tea and then sit in bed and watch the sun come up. The morning is the best time, there are no people around. My pleasant disposition likes the world with nobody in it.”

For nearly ten years, Andy Warhol woke up and had a phone call with his friend Pat Hackett around 9 a.m. These calls could last up to two hours, after which Warhol would shower, get dressed, and take his two daschunds downstairs to the kitchen where he breakfasted with his housekeepers.

Igor Stravinsky claimed he could not compose unless he was sure nobody could hear, and when he felt blocked, he’d stand on his head to “clear the brain.”

“There are certain things I do if I sit down to write,” Stephen King told Lisa Rogak in her book “Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King” said. “I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning. I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.”

Fred Rogers went swimming nearly every single morning, before putting on his sweaters as the host of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

If you’re curious about some of your other favorite artists’ rituals, check out The Daily Routines, an archive edited by Mason Currey, who also has two books on the same subject.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

Daily Rituals: Women at Work

Obviously, these stories were told only after the people in them became successful, and interviewers wanted their secrets. But who’s to say these weren’t their methods all along? Carving out time and space and energy for your art makes the event sacred and the product holy. Consider it so.

What are your creation rituals?