Book notes: Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey book review summary and key ideas.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey


“Kafka is one of 161 inspired – and inspiring – minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks.

Here also are the daily rituals of Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky (he was never able to compose unless he was sure no one could hear him and, when blocked, stood on his head to “clear the brain”).

Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, and magically inspiring.” -Audible

Opening thoughts:

I think of this book because it was recommended by Tim Ferriss on his blog and other places. The reviews weren’t stellar or from what I remember, but finally have time to pick this up. Plus I think it’s a good time because it’s the start of the new year sort of and I think this might be the thing I need to hear

Key notes:

Reader’s note: It seems like many of these people have some sort of morning ritual. They each vary but it seems like a handful of them either won’t eat hardly anything or a very late breakfast. Then they will section out their morning like 9 AM to noon for a block of creative work and then whatever after lunch. Seem very disciplined in having this morning lot schedule to be consistent

Reader’s note: It also seems like a good number of these creators also have some sort of physical activity integrated into their day as well, which might help break up the routine and help their creative juices with physiological stimulation. I have no doubt that taking care of your body and keeping it active helps greatly with one’s cognitive and creative capacity.

  • One author found it helpful to keep his daily routines novel and fresh by changing something up and making it unique and interesting
    • That kept him motivated to stick with it and had a placebo effect
  • One author says you must be in total possession of yourself in order to produce great works and have inspiration pass through you, and giving form to your thoughts
  • It seems like daily long walks is another common denominator between some of these artists
  • Another characteristic of some of these artists is a long stretch of secluded time to work on their art
    • Their close friends and family knew not to interrupt them and leave them alone
  • One author said you have to set a goal for each day and stick to it
  • A solid routine saves you from giving up
  • One performance artist says that only when she has a project she’s focused on does she have any self-discipline
  • One author liked to be out to collect things and images for her creative works
    • She liked cleaning or ironing or walking to get her into a creative mood, and never worked after 6pm
  • One author notes it’s all about self discipline. What works for each person will vary
    • You suit yourself and your nature. How one works, assuming he’s disciplined, doesn’t matter. The trick is to make time, not steal it. Eventually, everyone learns his or her best way. The real mystery to crack is you

Main ideas / Themes:

  • In terms of daily rituals, what works for one person may not work for another. Find what works and stick to it
  • Long walks and periods of exercise or physical activity, especially in nature, seem to help with the creative process
  • Set one goal for each day and stick with it
  • A solid routine helps with self-discipline

Closing thoughts:

While this book was really hard to take notes without simply processing the entire thing and taking meticulous notes on all 160 or so artists, I really appreciated the insight I got from it.

Because the book wasn’t really structured in any specific way, I elected to simply listen and absorb the passage on each artist passively and take a note whenever I started to notice a trend. That’s how I came across some of the habits of daily walks, exercises, and sometimes skipping meals.

With that being said, this isn’t a good “how to” book, but more just a collection of the habits of these particular people from secondary sources. Even though there aren’t any explicit lessons learned, this is a great book that I think I may listen to again in the future.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice

Moving forward, I want to start implementing a ONE TAKEAWAY ideology for each of my books. Here, I want to see if I can find and implement one thing from the book and incorporate into my life. I think if I do this, it’ll engrain the book’s principles more deeply into my life, help me learn through implementation, make me a doer instead of a learner, and I’ll accumulate a lot of good habits over the long term.

One takeaway:
  • Daily 10-20 minute walks

I might start off small and do this 3-4 times a week, but the goal is to make it a daily habit. Similar to other daily habits I want to incorporate (meditating, flossing, making bed, and handstand practice).

I’ve also heard elsewhere that taking walks in nature reduces stress and has many physiological as well as psychological health benefits. I believe I heard this from a previous book I read Make Time.


While daily habits of artists can widely vary from person to person, the key is to find out what works for you and stick with it.



8 thoughts on “Book notes: Daily Rituals by Mason Currey”

  1. Good idea with the “one takeaway” for each book. On your daily 10-20 minute walk goal, after reading Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath I decided to incorporate this as a daily habit (M-F) and it helped me a lot. Hope it works out for you.

    Do you use any habit tracker apps?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And that’s awesome 👏🏼 how did you feel it helped?

      And I don’t have any habit tracker apps, I just set reminders for myself on my phone.

      How about you? Any recommendations for these types of apps?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Walking has given me a general sense of wellbeing, although I can’t point to a specific thing it helped, it is more of an overall feeling of being more refreshed for the day after walking.

        Habit trackers have helped me a lot, I have tried several. My favorite as of now is Habitify. I recommend trying it or another habit tracker.

        Liked by 1 person

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