“Daily Rituals” by Mason Currey Book Review

I have another book review this week and if you are interested in Daily Rituals then this book is for you.  Have you ever wondered how artists work?  What routines and disciplines do successful artists put into place to insure that they are as productive as they can be each and every day?

Daily Rituals by Mason CurreyIn “Daily Rituals” by Mason Currey (amazon affilitate link), he catalogs the daily routines and rituals of many successful artists from past and present.  We get a glimpse into their lives and how they maintained a consistent and productive work schedule despite the pressures of normal daily life.

I have to be honest, I have listened to this book probably six times on Audible while working in my shop.  I tend to listen to a lot of books during the workday.  I get bored easily just listening to music, so Audible is a very important part of my sanity throughout the hours and hours of working alone in the shop tapping away on leather.

Oh sure, Freddy is there with me the majority of the time but he listens to his music in his headphones and doesn’t waste time chattering away the day with me… although I enjoy being able to focus on my chores, I do miss conversation at times.

“Daily Rituals” is a book that I feel is a must read (or listen) and doing so more than once is quite enlightening.  This book is basically a collection of short tellings of famous artists and their daily routines for achieving the great success that we know them for.

From writers, painters, physicists, actors and all types in between throughout the 19th and 20th century, Mason does a fantastic job of taking us into the daily rituals and discipline of these artists and creatives.  I bought this book in 2015 and the first time I listened to it I knew that I would have to listen again just to consume all the information.

If you are the type of creative that geeks out on other creators’ routines and daily rituals then consider adding this book to your “To Read” list.

Within this book, are stories of quirky superstitions, obsessive compulsion, drunkenness, and down right debauchery. 

  • There are are artists that maintained a very mundane morning ritual of very little excitement, despite their accolades and fame.
  • There are others who lived on the verge of homelessness and bankruptcy.
  • One or two that commited suicide.
  • One that maintained a 40 marriage with the same woman, all while having multiple affairs with both women and men.
  • As well as one that maintained a household in the suburbs with her husband and children and only wrote while the kids were at school and her husband at work.

The thing that I found most interesting in these stories of success was how differing these daily rituals were from artist to artist.

  • Not all used drugs and alcohol.
  • Not all were torchered souls using their art to express their turmoil.
  • Nor did all of them think of their gift in their art as an anointed gift from God that they were called to lay upon the world.

The main idea to me that rang true through all of these depictions was that no matter the art or how it is to be created, the artist must create an environment and daily routine that allows for that art to flourish.

The majority of people that I speak with usually have a very romantic view of the artist archetype.  And usually that view could very well contain some of the above attributes.  This makes for fantastic movies about them when they are dead and gone, but this is not  the case among the majority of artists.

There are many artists that battle demons in order to create the art that they want to express.  They work hard to redirect this energy into the production of art that is truly a part of them.  I don’t feel that this is only a cross to bear by the artist, I believe that all humans deal with this in all types of work and careers.

Those within this book were able to create fantastic collections of work within their lifetimes despite their sometimes tragic routines and rituals.  This is the amazing part.  These were not the ones who were only creative because of their routines, they were the ones who surprisingly made it work despite these routines.

As you read this book, think about how much greater or more profound their works would have been without these hindrances.

“You are not artistic, creative or different because of your anxiety, depression or addictions… you are these wonderful things despite them.” 


We all have things keeping us from our creations.  It may be resistance, fear, addiction, ADHD, PTSD, putting kids through college, or just a 12 pack iced down in the cooler.  We don’t always win against these adversaries but we can always begin again tomorrow and continue pushing forward.  Some days we win and some days we don’t, but that’s okay and just part of the journey.

In my book review of “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, I found a similar tie in as I found in this book.  These Professional Artists had to put rituals and routines in place in their lives to combat Resistance (whatever their Resistance was) on a daily basis.  Doing the work was all that mattered… every day.

“The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”

Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”