If you are as voracious as I am about maintaining a creative life, then you’ve probably heard a few stories about how other creative people structure their morning, their day, their life, etc. It seems like we are all searching for the perfect routine. We want to know how successful creatives stay focused and invite the muse in.
I like to say that I’ve got to create a life that nourishes my writing life. Athletes train for their events, and writers need to stay on top of their game too.
Did you know that Simone de Beauvoir would start her day with tea around 10 a.m. and work until 1 p.m? Then she’d take lunch with friends and go back to work from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Ernest Hemingway would write every morning “as soon after first light as possible… and write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and you know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again,” according to a Paris Review article in 1958.
Ludwig van Beethoven made a strong cup of coffee each morning, counting out exactly 60 beans for his morning cup.
Georgia O’Keeffe would wake at dawn to sip her tea in bed, then take a morning walk around her New Mexico neighborhood. Then, she would get to her studio and start painting.
You can read more about many creative geniuses and their routines in the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.
One super important note from his book: most artists throughout history have kept a day job, so don’t use the excuse of time to let your creative dreams go. Toni Morrison developed the habit of writing at 5 a.m. because it was the only free time before her kids would wake up and she’d have to go to work.
Ok, so here’s a version of mine. Please know that it is always subject to change. Some days I get inspired and write first thing, other days I get up and catch an early yoga class.
7 a.m.- 8 a.m. Wake Up
Linger in bed and try to remember my dreams, say a short prayer of gratitude for a new day, look out the window and see nature, remember it’s all really a dream. Drink water. Switch my phone from airplane mode to on and check Instagram—I love seeing pictures and inspirational messages first thing in the morning. Check email. I keep trying to break this habit, but I’m just too damn curious.
8:15 a.m. Morning Pages
I like to capture my thoughts first thing in the morning alá Julia Cameron (who I studied with in NYC for a year). Learn more about MPs in an article I wrote for Omega Institute.
8:45 a.m. Stretch, Breath, Meditate.
I don’t have a formal practice, but try to stay quiet and let any feelings or thoughts come to the surface that might need some attention. I like to practice alternative nostril breathing to ground and create balance in my body.
9 a.m. Move it!
I tend to take a walk, go on a run, or do a workout video in my office. Big ups to: www.fitnessblender.com, www.toneitup.com, and www.doyouyoga.com.
9:30 a.m. Joy Party Breakfast
I make a smoothie, fry a duck egg, heat up leftover veggies, or if I’m super lucky eat a “breakfast cookie” and make a matcha latte. I try to make my breakfast with a joyful exuberance for the day, so I might play music and dance around, make jokes with my boyfriend and be super goofy, or listen to a podcast.
10 a.m. Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
I like to start my day with one project that can be completed in the morning time. I’m super competitive (yes, even with myself), so I like to begin the day knowing I can soon check something off my list. It can be as small as an invoice or as large as a writing or researching a story that’s due that week. Many times, it’s tackling a few emails that need replies. I tend to write at least 2 or 3 to-dos for each day and try my best to make them happen.