I originally wanted to write about elegance. I spent the week pouring over ideas of what it means to be elegant. How elegance manifests itself and how one comes across elegant. Then I came across this interview with Joan Didion:
Q: Do you admire Elegance?
A: Yes, because it makes you feel better. It’s a form. I’m very attached to certain forms, like compulsive rituals. I like to cook; I like to sew. They’re peaceful things, and they’re an expression of caring.
What struck me was her comment about ‘compulsive rituals,’ because lately I’ve been in a chaotic state. I’ve noticed it in my fiancé as well. It’s not noticeable to anyone but us – we’re not running around aimlessly, our apartment in shambles or our work undone. It’s more an underlying feeling, a restlessness that we are no longer settled, motivated, on a path.
And that’s manifested in our behavior. We’ve been losing things – keys, wallets, thoughts. We haven’t been sleeping well. We’ve been slacking on the things we find important – his time for working out, mine for writing.
There’s no set time for things anymore. No real order to things. No care taken for each hour, each part of the day. We watch TV when we want. We eat when we want. We drink when we want. And that makes nothing sacred, nothing important. And it distracts us from the work we know we should be doing.
I’ve always considered myself a contradiction. I crave individuality but I’m drawn to order. Which is why this schedule of Ursula Le Guine’s writing routine shifted something in me. I printed it out and then wrote up one of my own. And it’s only been a few days but having that structure around my day feels like an invisible hand holding me through it.
I’ve now designated thirty minutes just to ‘get ready’ for work every morning. In that thirty minutes, I have time to pack lunch, eat a good breakfast, think about what I need and want from the day. And before those thirty minutes I designate an hour of ‘decompression.’ Time to just think or Tumblr or scroll through Instagram. But no matter what, I now always have to be out of bed in time for my thirty minute morning routine.
Below are some templates, some inspiration you can use to create your own daily routine. Many of us are not ‘blessed’ with that seemingly blank slate’ of day a writer has before her, however, her time spent writing is as much a job as yours. What she does, however, is learn to separate work from play. Learn to create space and time to foster creativity, relaxation, inspiration and socialization so these things do not interfere with her work – distract her from it or make her feel guilty about it.
Whether you’re a creative, an entrepreneur or still not sure what you want to do, you need to know what your routine is. What are moments that you need to carve time out for? What are things that deserve hours in your day? What are things that you’ve been avoiding or misusing your time on?
Anna Wintour’s Routine
6:45 AM: Rises for an hour of tennis.
7:45 AM: Has her hair blown out.
9:00AM: Is in the office for the day’s work.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Routine
Dawn: Wake up (The dogs start talking to me and I like to make a fire and maybe some tea and then sit in bed and watch the sun come up. The morning is the best time, there are no people around.)
Early Morning: Half-hour walk (keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes on her property, which she would kill with her walking stick (she kept their rattles in a box to show to visitors.)
7 AM – Breakfast (hot chili with garlic oil, soft-boiled or scrambled eggs, bread with a savory jam, sliced fresh fruit, and coffee or tea. )
8 AM: Work in studio
Afternoon: Work in studio or work in the garden, do housework, answer letters, and receive visitors.
4:30 PM: light supper
Dusk: Evening drive through beloved countryside.
Susan Sontag’s Routine
8:00 AM: Wake up
Lunchtime: Lunch only with Roger (Straus). Can break ‘no going out for lunch’ rule once every two weeks.
Afternoon/night: Take and respond to phone calls (she told people not to call in the morning, or she didn’t answer the phone).
Evening: Reading, to escape from writing (but only in the evening).
Fridays: Letter answering day.
Marie Kondo’s Routine
6 AM – I wake. I do not use an alarm clock. Then I open the window and welcome fresh air into my house, and I burn incense.
Breakfast – I make it a priority to eat Japanese food that I prepare myself. For breakfast, I cook rice in my donabe, accompanied by miso soup mixed with lots of seasonal vegetables. I also like to eat as much fermented food as possible. For example, I like natto (fermented soybeans) and homemade amazake (a sweet fermented rice drink). Overall, I try to eat the foods that suit my physical condition and avoid processed sugar. If I crave something sweet, I’ll look to natural, wholesome foods to satisfy those cravings, like fruit.
Morning – starts with meetings and interviews, which I like to tackle in the morning.
Afternoon – I transition to writing. However, if there’s a photo shoot, that often takes a full day. I also like to practice yoga and stretch during the day—my exercise routine doesn’t involve anything too strenuous.
6 PM– focused on spending quality time with my children. After wrapping up my work around 6 p.m., I eat dinner at home with my family or sometimes invite friends over. Before putting my children to bed, I read them a book.
Evening – Once the children are asleep, I change the water in the flower vases and put the things in my house back in their places. Because every item already has a designated home, I can usually complete this task within 10 minutes. As I put my things back into their places, I thank them for their hard work that day.
Before Bed – I diffuse oils to ease my body into sleep. Lavender and Japanese wood are my favorites.
Maya Angelou’s Routine
5:30 am: Wake Up
6:00 am: Coffee
6:30 am: Leave for work
7:00 am: Start work
2:00 pm: Reread writing from that day
3:00 pm: Rest, drink, prepare and eat dinner
8:00 pm: read day’s work to husband
9:00 pm: Get ready for bed
10:00 pm: Sleep
Ursual Le Guin’s Routine
5:30 am: wake up and lie there and think
6:15 am: get up and eat breakfast (lots)
7:15 am: get to work writing, writing, writing.
1:00 – 3:00 pm: reading, music
3:00 – 5:00 pm: correspondence, maybe house cleaning
5:00 – 8:00 pm: make dinner and eat it
After 8:00 pm: I tend to be very stupid and we won’t talk about this
Want More? Check out the book ‘Daily Routines: How Artists Work’