An Encyclopaedia of Procrastination and Substance Abuse?

Mayan music and rituals: painting at Bonampak, Chiapas, Mexico.
Photo: Jacobolus [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia.

Daily Rituals: How Artists WorkDaily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This work is an encyclopaedia of daily rituals, rather than a coherent story. I found it to be interesting and useful in thinking about my own daily rituals. 

Many of the entries are of people I have not heard of before. This was useful because many of these same people had to find time between work and home life to practise their craft. 

One of the problems with looking for inspiration from great artists is that many of them had significant others who did all the daily chores. So many of the greats could shut themselves off from the world around them for long stretches of time - usually while someone else did the cooking and cleaning and laundry or else supported them financially in the early stages. 

For most people, having someone else act as a live-in personal servant is a pipe dream. That doesn't mean that the daily rituals of great artists are not useful when considering one's own rituals, but it does require some realistic adjustments. For example, almost all of the great artists' rituals recorded in this encyclopaedia relied heavily on alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, and/or drugs, with many of them not living very long at all. It seems almost like cheating; if artists were athletes, we wouldn't see their exploits as so remarkable. 

The book is good as an aside, and you can read one or a few entries at a time, but it is not a traditional read. There is an excellent list of references and notes at the back for further reading. I intend to put this book to good use to refine my own writing routine and there is plenty of food for thought about various ways to get work done and to overcome procrastination. Even without drugs.

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