Daily Rituals: How I Work
Last week, I met with a colleague to discuss my daily writing process. He had noticed my very routine-based approach to writing and wanted to chat so we could bounce ideas off of each other.
I really love the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. In it, Currey examines the lives of hundreds of creatives throughout history, from artists to writers to composers to scientists. Through research from the creative’s own writing or what biographers have noted, each person featured has a few paragraphs dedicated to their daily rituals. Some were highly structured, like mine. Some would write only when they felt like it but still would have a ritual of “drinking four cups of coffee first” or “always using the same pencil.”
After my discussion with my colleague last week, I wondered what my own entry would look like in a book such as Daily Rituals. I think it would go something like this.
Anna Burgess Yang woke every morning, without an alarm, before 4:00 a.m. She would drink one cup of regular coffee with heavy cream. She would set the mood in her office with either incense or candles plus music and sit down to write.
The morning would begin by organizing her Google Calendar into blocks of time dedicated to each task that needed to get done. Then from about 4:30 until 6:00 am, she would do deep focus work with writing. At 6:00 am, her middle son would always wake up, so she would pause and have breakfast with him. During breakfast, she would write in her journal and read a few poems.
Between 7:30 and 8:15, Yang would often write in her blog. At 8:15, she helped her children get ready for the school bus’s arrival. After the children had left, she would resume working/writing from about 8:30–10:30. Weather permitting, she would take a walk at 10:30, then resume catching up on emails or messages that had arrived during the morning.
Yang would take a break from work from 11:30–12:30. During this time, she would eat lunch and take a nap. In the afternoon, she would rarely do any “heavy” writing, instead focusing on outlines, meetings, or responding to emails. She ended her workday by 3:00 pm when her children arrived home from school.
In the evenings, Yang would rarely do any intensive work but sometimes did research related to writing projects. Her weekends had a very similar morning routine, with the only difference being that her writing work time would end by 9:30 am, and the rest of the day was dedicated to her family.