Daily Rituals

One of the best and most immediate perks of giving up my corporate job was that I could stop setting my alarm. I’ve always struggled with getting up in the morning: no matter what time I go to bed or how long (or how well) I sleep, I’m always happy to stay in bed a little longer. The snooze button and I have a close, personal relationship. I really hated having to be somewhere at 7, 8, or 9:00—especially if I was expected to wear business casual clothes and more than a swipe of mascara.

The routines of artists

red book cover for Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

But left to my own devices this summer, the pendulum swung the other way. Having no routine has made me feel anxious about how I’m getting things done and guilty for eschewing all structure in my day. As I started trying to come up with the perfect daily agenda, I found the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work from Mason Currey. He compiled the daily routines of writers, composers, painters, choreographers, philosophers, filmmakers, and scientists—often in their own words. It’s a wonderful and interesting collection of insights.

Some wake at 4:00 in the morning, others at noon. Some follow a minute-by-minute routine and others let their intuition guide them. Charles Dickens went for “a vigorous three-hour walk through the countryside or the streets of London” ever day promptly at 2:00. Truman Capote only wrote while lying down, always with a cup of coffee and a cigarette . . . shifting from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis as the day progressed.

It turns out there’s no one schedule that defines the creation of good and important work. I still haven’t decided on a routine that works for me, but I’m slowly carving one out. So far it includes making the bed as soon as possible, finding a half hour for a walk, leaving my phone in the other room when I’m writing, and still not setting an alarm. I’ve decided I don’t care whether I wake up with the dawn or just in time for lunch.

What about you? Do you have a particular routine or ritual?

Page 2

I’ve had “start a blog” on my to-do list for approximately 11 months. As a person who likes to write, who likes to fancy herself a little bit witty and/or interesting, and who has recently started a freaking writing business . . . it seems like a totally reasonable thing to be doing. But I’m terrified of first pages.

The fear of starting

When I start any kind of paper-bound project, and I’ve been doing this for years, I start on page two. Diaries, food trackers, notebooks for classes, bullet journals, blank calendars. I leave that first page blank on all of them and start on the second one. I’m not sure if it’s a fear of imperfection or just of starting, but there’s just a little less pressure after I flip past the first page.

I suppose I’ve avoided a blog because there isn’t a way to avoid that on-screen. I just have to start and hope that I don’t later feel compelled to come back and slide some kind of explanation in front: “What you’re about to read is a bunch of drivel and my apologies in advance.”

Start anyway

But if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that good stuff happens when you commit to taking leaps. I suspect that anyone reading this post is likely to already know a good bit about me—which is probably true of most First Blog Posts—but here’s my quick introduction anyway:

I’m the 30-something owner of Mallory Herrmann Editorial Services LLC. I live in the Kansas City area with my sweet husband of nearly four months and our (mostly sweet) cat Hot Dog. I’m a lifelong reader and writer with a knack for finding subject-verb disagreement and an insistence on using the Oxford comma. I’ve been writing and helping writers for a decade, and I made the leap into full-time self-employment earlier this year. This is my first (and hopefully not last) blog.