Review: Daily Rituals

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

By Mason Currey

Kindle edition, ASIN: B009Y4I4OM

Available on Amazon

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work on Goodreads


Daily Rituals: How Artists Work is the kind of book I love as a busy parent and writer. The chapters are short enough that I can read one or two while waiting for the kids to get out of school, but engaging enough that I want to read 20 or more when I have a chunk of time. This book is a series of short essays that investigate how well-known artists work and what their daily rituals are. From X who does Y, to A who does B, there is something for every kind of artist within these pages. Currey’s done a fabulous job of curating a broad range of artists and habits so the reader has a wide sampling of tactics from which to choose.

Key Points

There is no right or wrong way to create, although I’ll admit that I found a few artists’ habits a bit … odd. With so many different habits exposed within these pages, there’s something that will appeal to everyone.

In the introduction, Currey states that he thought often of the following quotation as he wrote. I can completely empathize with Kafka, having at times tried to become one with the couch in a vain attempt to avoid notice (and thus interruption). I’m sure many of us, especially in the age of COVID-19, wish we lived in a more pleasant, straightforward situation.

“. . . time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”

Franz Kafka

I found it incredibly interesting that the things creatives complain about most haven’t changed all that much over the years. Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805) had some odd habits (like keeping rotting apples on hand because their smell helped him write!), but he craved long periods of uninterrupted time in which to work. So, he wrote late into the night, fortified with alcohol, often striding about his writing space while talking to himself. It seemed that this was the only time he could get the solitude he craved. I wonder what he’d think of the amount of time people today spend on social media and playing video games?

“We have failed to recognize our great assert: Time. A conscientious use of it could make us into something quite amazing.”

Friedrich Schiller

Many artists kept short hours, some between 2-1/2 and 3 hours, like Willa Cather (1873 – 1947). For those of us with limited “spare” time in which to write or otherwise create, this is good news. And that trip to the gym may prove helpful, too, as quite a few artists also spoke of the importance of walking or other exercise to their creative routines. On thing that struck me was the idea there had to be an interest in the creative work, an enthusiasm for it.

I wanted to love this book. A few flaws stand between it and a higher rating. If you’re looking for an equal balance of men and women, you won’t find one as this volume contains significantly more male artists than female. I also found the organization a bit disjointed and would have, as a reader, appreciated more of a connection between the artists, especially as they don’t seem to be presented in any particular order.


Despite its minor imperfections, I think Currey’s Daily Rituals is a book you’ll return to again and again, especially when you’re feeling in an artistic rut. The short chapters make for easy reading, and the explicit examples from artists’ lives give concrete ideas you can put into action. If I could give it 3.5 stars, I would.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Similar Recommendations …

If you liked Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, you might also enjoy:

Daily Rituals: Women at Work, edited by Mason Currey

Deep Work: Rules for Focus in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, by Steven Johnson