Mason Currey is the author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Print, and Metropolis. He lives in Los Angeles.
Neoteric Art: What inspired you to write “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work”?
Mason Currey: Short answer: procrastination.
Long answer: The book grew out of a blog I started in 2007, called Daily Routines. The blog was inspired by a problem that I often run into, which is that I have a really hard time doing focused work — especially writing — in the afternoons. I’m a hopeless “morning person” — I can get a lot done in the early-a.m. hours, but my productivity takes a nosedive after lunch. And yet I’m always trying to overcome this predilection and force myself to work later in the day.
One Sunday afternoon in 2007, I went into the office of the magazine that I worked for at the time, determined to write a story due the next day — and, as usual, I just couldn’t do it. To justify my lack of productivity that afternoon, I started searching the Internet for other writers who, like me, could only work in the mornings. I’ve always loved reading about creative people’s routines and habits, and it occurred to me that someone should start a blog collecting these anecdotes. Since there didn’t seem to be one already, I launched Daily Routines that afternoon. (I wrote my magazine story the next morning in a last-minute panic.)
The blog was really just a hobby, and for the first year or so I had maybe a dozen readers. But then a Slate editor mentioned Daily Routines in a story, and suddenly I was receiving tens of thousands of visitors and a steady stream of e-mails from fans of the site — including a few editors and literary agents who suggested that I develop a book proposal. So I did that, and then embarked on a long research project to compile the very best material, and Daily Rituals was the eventual result.