This book is a hard one to review because of what it is. This is a meticulously researched work on the work habits of writers, composers, artists and other creative types. He pulls this information from existing sources, biographies, autobiographies and personal journals. If you are looking for this type of detailed information, than this book easily could merit a five star review. Currey does a great job presenting this information, presumably sifting through mounds of notes, interviews and books to capture the essence of the artists work habits. There are almost 30 pages of footnotes for this book. I took a lot of notes while reading this book and I will post the writing life tidbits out on my twitter feed as #authorfacts in the next few weeks.
In a purely unscientific assessment of these habits, I can present to you a summary of what I learned here:
- Artists work first thing in the morning to get it out of the way early so they can go about their day. 113 out of the 161 artists profiled (or 70.2% of them) began work in the morning, and many of the the late-rising artists also began work as one of their first activities of the day in the afternoon or night time, but the overwhelming majority of artists woke in the morning and got to work within 2 hours of waking.
- Most of them followed a strict daily work schedule working for a set number of hours, (typically anywhere from 3 to 6 hours) or until they hit a goal word count (usually 1000 to 1500 words).
- Many artists drank or smoked to excess, all ultimately having a negative impact on their work. Another popular excess: coffee.
The one thing I wish this book would have done was to interview more contemporary authors, a lot of these artists are dead and from the 19th and early 20th century. Although the book contains some writers from the late 20th Century, the majority of these are of the Baby Boomer generation, and I’d be curious to see the daily rituals of Generation X or Millennial authors, and how they handle the distraction-rich, socially interconnected world of the 21st century. I think this information is out there and available, and maybe even easier to collect and write about, so I was disappointed that this wasn’t captured.
I also couldn’t figure out how the book was organized. The artists were not classified by the medium or subject area, and not in alphabetical or chronological order. The profiles seem to be completely random, and considering the audience for this book, I think it would have better been served by some sort of organizational structure to make it easier to look up a particular artist, time period or profession.
But the book is what it is. It is a solid, well-researched work of an obscure, somewhat academic subject, and although this is fascinating to a writer such as myself, I’m not sure the book can hold the interest of someone not specifically looking for this type of information, and I’m not sure it could hold the interest of writers and other artists not specifically interested in this aspect of the creative process.
About Ratings: ***** — Well Worth it at Full Retail Price; **** — Buy on Sale/Discounted; *** — Buy Used; ** — Borrow It from the Library; * — Waste of a Good Tree