When it comes to writing, most writers will you tell you they have a routine. Stephen King says that he writes 10 pages a day without fail, even on holidays. Truman Capote had to write lying down with a cigarette and coffee. Vladimir Nabokov wrote Lolita entirely on index cards. Victor Hugo wrote in the nude to ensure he wouldn’t leave the house.
Why? Daily habits and routines have a trigger effect that induces the particular state of consciousness that is essential for creative work. So it got me thinking about the habits and routines of all creatives (I totally wanted to do this whole blog post on writers but then realized that I’m the only writer at Fifty & Fifty and it may appear like I’m monopolizing our blog to cater to myself).
I did some digging around and found the daily rituals for a bunch of different creatives throughout history. If anything, my research confirmed that creative people are fascinating. And super weird.
Ludwig van Beethoven started each day with coffee that he prepared himself by carefully counting out exactly 60 beans per cup.
German philosopher Immanuel Kant would only eat one meal a day – a 4-hour lunch of meat and wine at a neighborhood pub – followed by an hour of walking.
Winston Churchill woke up at 7:30am and remained in bed to eat breakfast, read all the national newspapers, and dictate to his secretaries. At 11am he would get out of bed to take a bath and walk around his garden with a weak whiskey and soda.
Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky believed he had to take a walk of exactly two hours a day and that if he returned even a few minutes early, great misfortunes would befall him.
British playwright Somerset Maugham had to face a blank wall before the words would come (any other view, he felt, was too distracting).
Benjamin Franklin took daily “air baths”, which meant lounging around naked in the mornings.
Artist Joan Miró took a five-minute nap after lunch everyday.
Ernest Hemingway famously wrote standing up wearing oversized loafers. He would write “every morning as soon after first light as possible.”
Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister gets up every morning at 5am, and enjoys a giant pot of coffee and a medium-sized cigar for breakfast.
Architect Le Corbusier would spend five hours in the morning on “artistic contemplation” and then three hours in the afternoon putting employees to work on ideas he came up with that morning.
And since I work at a creative collective, I asked my comrades around the office if they have any daily quirks that help fuel their creativity.
Graphic designer Megan says “I do cartwheels when I’m stuck on ideas…it’s a thing.”
Web Engineer Leah goes running everyday (literally – she leaves work in the middle of each day and runs for miles & miles). She says, “If I’m stuck on a problem I go for a run and usually the solution comes to me somewhere along the way.”
Braden, our Director of Operations, throws darts at the office dartboard right when he gets into the office and right before he leaves: “If I bullseye six darts, it’s going to be a good day.”
Writer Krista Morgan (yours truly) has up to four cups of coffee before 11am, and only uses black ink, never blue.
Alex, our Senior Developer, makes a smoothie every morning, listens to podcasts on his way to work, and smokes his e-cigarette profusely.
Project Manager Lindsey consumes unhealthy quantities of coffee and listens to NPR everyday.
Web Engineer Tracy says she never listens to music with lyrics while she works.
And so dear friends, I leave you with all those inspiring yet totally random oddities that make creatives creative. Are your habits weirder? Tell me everything.