“The idea that very creative people are also a little crazy has been around since humanity’s earliest days.” Eric Jaffe
One of my favorite books to have read in recent years is Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. In it, Currey presents more than 150 captivating vignettes about novelists, poets, playwrights, painters and other creatives that describe how they subtly maneuver (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do. It turns out, some of their rituals and practices were quite quirky.
In the same vein, illustrator Ellen Weinstein has created a new book, Recipes for Good Luck, where she takes the rituals, superstitions and bizarre habits of nearly 70 artists and thinkers and packages them as clever illustrations alongside brief descriptions. Here are a few interesting ones.
Virginia Woolf wrote at a standing desk to get a new perspective on her work.
Stepping in due to a shortage of extras, Alfred Hitchcock soon developed a superstition that a film would flop at the box office if he didn’t make an on-screen appearance.
Winston Churchill brought his cat to cabinet meetings to ensure success and liked to pet black cats for luck.
Benjamin Franklin took so-called “air baths.” He would open a window on the ground floor of his building — stark naked — and read or write for half an hour or so each morning.
Agatha Christie ate apples in the bathtub while dreaming up the plots to her iconic murder mysteries.
Charles Dickens carried a compass and used it to face north at bedtime. Dickens believed sleeping in that direction boosted his creativity.
The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown puts on gravity boots and hangs upside down from a special frame to get over writer’s block.
Dr. Seuss wore a hat to combat writer’s block — a habit that helped him come up with The Cat in the Hat, among other children’s classics.
The architect I.M. Pei draws at night, in his mind, with the lights off, then sketches his ideas on paper in the bathroom with the light on.
Ludwig van Beethoven counted coffee beans to get his creative juices flowing.
Pablo Picasso held on to his fingernail clippings, hair and old clothes for fear of losing his “essence.”
Definitely not in the same league as these folks, I tend to work best in darkened environments, surrounded by antique furniture.