Lately I’ve been pondering our daily routines. Specifically mine. I tend to be very disciplined when it comes to developing household routines and I’ve always been the type of mother that believed in our children having a regular schedule and set routine. However, when it comes to my own personal routine, I tend to cram in whatever I can throughout the day. Oftentimes forfeiting sleep or ‘downtime’ in favor of getting more items crossed off my never ending ‘to do list’.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work covers 161 artists (including 27 women) and the routines, or rituals, they felt were essential to their creativity and lives. Although the artists differ in personalities, a few consistent themes stood out that I think are not only applicable to most of us but also encouraging.
“All those I think who have lived as literary men, –working daily as literary labourers, –will agree with me that three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write. But then, he should so have trained himself that he shall be able to work continuously during those three hours.” Anthony Trollope (1815-1852)
Do you sometimes struggle with juggling your time & responsibilities with your passions? I know I do. I also know that I’m a better mother, wife and a less grumpy homemaker when I have opportunities to be creative or write. I believe each of us has a desire to create or express ourselves in some way. Is it any wonder when the God, the Creator of all things, made us in His image?
Have you ever felt like you had to give up on your passion completely?
One of the surprising things I discovered in the book was the number of successful authors who did not devote their entire day to writing, or feel that it was necessary to do so. Gertrude Stein admitted that she was never able to write more than a half hour a day, saying, “If you write a half hour a day it makes a lot of writing year by year.” Toni Morrison admitted to the Paris Review in 1993 that she has never been able to write regularly, because she has always had a 9-5 job and was a single parent. To Martin Amis writing was nothing more than a part-time job and he is quoted as saying that “writing from eleven to one continuously is a very good day’s work…Writers would be very happy with two hours of concentrated work.”
“A writer can do everything by himself–but he needs discipline.” Federico Fellini (1920-1993)
Another striking trait was self-discipline. These artists exercised great self discipline in various forms including: Their schedule, the length of time they wrote, their pre-writing rituals, where they worked, or even their need and demand for quiet. In other words, things didn’t just fall into place easily for them. They had to be disciplined in finding ways to balance their desire to create with their own lifestyle situations.
“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.” W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
Flannery O’Connor once wrote to a friend that, “Routine is a condition of survival.” Any mother with a toddler knows that.
Not surprisingly most artists preferred the solitude of the early morning or the late evening hours when no one was around to interrupt them. Frank Llyod Wright primarily conceived his ideas and made sketches for his buildings between the hours of 4 and 7am.
“I needed to be alone in the still of the night, without the phone, without friends calling, with my husband sound asleep. I needed that utter freedom.” Ann Rice (1941)
I have known and embraced the concept of Solitude from my Mommy Sabbaticals. Quiet Time is not only good for children, but their mothers too. While society wants us to believe that multitasking is the only way to lead a productive life, I now firmly believe in the power of embracing solitude and single tasks. This is especially true when raising children. We shouldn’t multi-task our lives and moments with our children away.
Schedule your Time wisely.
Exercise Self Discipline.
We can do this.