The Odd (And Effective) Routines of Famous Minds like Beethoven, Maya Angelou, and Francis Bacon

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Wine is part of my creative process. How I use it has been influenced by other writers. Why reinvent the wheel?

Sometimes, peculiar routines are the key to sanity… and productivity.

For years, I wrote from 11pm-4am or so, fueled by carefully timed yerba mate tea, Malbec, and Casino Royale left on repeat in my peripheral vision.

But who am I? Let’s explore the odd and effective routines of several creative icons: Maya Angelou (author), Francis Bacon (painter), W.H. Auden (poet), and Ludwig van Beethoven (composer).

Here’s an appetizer, before we get to the full routines:

Maya Angelou rented a “tiny, mean” hotel or motel room to do her writing;
Francis Bacon preferred to work with a hangover;
W.H. Auden took Benzedrine the way many people take a multivitamin; and
Beethoven counted out 60 coffee beans (exactly!) each morning, and developed his compositions through walking and obsessive bathing.

Enjoy the detailed profiles below.

All were excerpted from one of my favorite books–Daily Rituals: How Artists Work–which contains nearly 200 routines of some of the greatest minds of the last four hundred years: famous novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians… Read More

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Daily Rituals — The Tim Ferriss Book Club, Book #2

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This post is about the second book in the Tim Ferriss Book Club, which is limited to books that have dramatically impacted my life. The first selection was Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. The second is Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. Enjoy!

I’m endlessly fascinated by routines and rituals.

What do the most successful people do first thing in the morning? Or last thing at night? How do writers, artists, and creatives engineer “inspiration” when it eludes them? Naps? Drugs? Exercise? Weird sexual habits or eating regimens? Other?

The answers can help you.

For my birthday last year, I received a incredible book: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. It was given to me by Josh Waitzkin, the renowned chess champion (best known from Searching for Bobby Fischer) and a master at deconstructing the world’s top performers.

He loved the book, and I fell head over heels in love with it.

It became my daily companion. There were gems everywhere, and I underlined nearly every page. I began to read 1-2 page-long profiles each morning with my pu-erh tea, and this ritual not only shocked me out of a major depressive funk, it also triggered a creative explosion.

I was having fun again… and getting tons done in the process!

Lena Dunham, creator of Girls, agrees: “I just can’t recommend this book [Daily Rituals] enough.”

Daily Rituals details nearly 200 routines of some of the greatest minds of the last four hundred years–famous novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians. Among other things, this book will make you feel better about your own procrastination and odd habits! These A-players were a very peculiar bunch… Read More

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The Ugly New York Times Bestseller — The Creative Process in Action

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(Photo: photosteve101)

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”
- Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
- Mark Twain

Writing isn’t a clean process.

In general, attempting to be creative isn’t a clean process. It’s filthy. I wish I could poo diamonds, but — alas — I am not built for such miracles. Instead, I plod and stumble my way through revisions, hacking at mental cobwebs and killing inner demons. Eventually, enough caffeine and wine permitting, I might look down and see something that doesn’t make me gag.

To give you an idea, below are some hand edits of the Introduction to The 4-Hour Chef, which–much improvement later–hit the NYT and WSJ bestseller lists in November of 2012. As I write this, it’s hovering around #180 on Amazon. Keep in mind that the below is after 5-10 drafts:

Download a full-size PDF of my edits here

Even this simple blog post, as one example, was revised and rewritten 14 times. The iteration pays off — it ended up getting 700+ comments. Conversely, one-take wonders usually get burned at the stake, and rightly so.

“Revising,” “iterating” (in start-up speak), “editing”…no matter what you call it, it’s tweaking something bad or mediocre until it finally works. As Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.”

This applies to much more than writing. Ernest would no doubt agree that my first attempt at a blog was shittier than shitty. Here are the “before” pics from 2007. Note that my friend Ramit Sethi and others had equally hideous “rough drafts” of their sites. It’s par for the course… Read More

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Jony Ive’s Secret Coffee Ritual

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Jony Ive and his elite design team at Apple are coffee snobs. And rightfully so.

Coffee is the fuel that drives their brainstorming sessions, which are arguably the most important meetings in the design department. These sessions are where Apple has birthed some of the greatest products of all-time: the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.

In this guest post by Leander Kahney (author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products), you’ll learn the secret coffee ritual performed by Jony Ive’s design team.

Remember: Apple’s standards are notoriously high.  As is the case with their products, Apple’s coffee is not for those with meager budgets…or without Monk-ish tendencies.

HOWEVER, for almost every uber-expensive ideal, I’ve indicated the Poor Man’s alternative that I personally use.  It’s not hard to cheaply get it about 90% right.

Enjoy the obsessive detail… Read More

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Assets and Fun for "The Tim Ferriss Experiment" — Please Share!

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I don’t do purely promotional posts often, but this is a special occasion — the premiere of my TV show! Special thanks to Brendan Gahan, who helped organized the below materials.

Sharing any of the below helps ensure I can film more episodes for y’all. Thank you in advance! Much more content coming (about Jony Ive, actually) soon.

Here goes…

IMAGES OF QUOTES & ANIMATED GIFS

If you feel so inclined, below are some images with quotes from the show as well as a few fun animated gifs for you to easily share. Please note, if you download the images and upload any of them your Twitter account directly, it will take up a bit more real estate in the newsfeed (and lead to more exposure for the show). Have fun and enjoy.

IMAGES
One of the best ways to learn something fast is to set stakes #TFX (IMAGE )
Innoculate yourself against making mistakes when you’re afraid #TFX (IMAGE 1) (IMAGE 2)
What other impossibles do I have in my life, that I should really question? #TFX (IMAGE 1) (IMAGE 2) (IMAGE 3)
D.I.S.S. Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing & Stakes #TFX (IMAGE 1)
What’s up now David Lee Roth? #TFX (IMAGE 1)
M.E.D. The Minimum Effective Dose to unlock this song #TFX (IMAGE 1)

GIFS
Swewart showing me the ‘annoying things guitarists do’ (GIF)
That annoying thing guitarists really do, do #TFX (GIF)
The pressure. The pressure. (GIF)
The 80/20 rule (GIF)
Stewart drumming like he lives in The Matrix #TFX (GIF)

 

QUOTES TO TWEET

I’ve pulled some of my all time favorite quotes, as well as some memorable lines from the show for. You can simply click to tweet and I’ll count all of these as entries to my contest.

Some of my all time favorites:
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw #TFX (Click To Tweet)
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”#TFX – Winston Churchill (Click To Tweet)
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” #TFX – George Bernard Shaw (Click To Tweet)
“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” #TFX via Aileen Norton Swift (Click To Tweet)
“A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.” #TFX – Bruce Lee (Click To Tweet)
What other impossibles do I have in my life, that I should really question? #TFX (Click To Tweet)

Memorable lines from the show:
What other impossibles do I have in my life, that I should really question? #TFX (Click To Tweet)
What’s up now David Lee Roth #TFX (Click To Tweet)
I need to figure out the minimum effective dose to learning this song, the smallest piece I can focus on to pull this off #TFX (Click To Tweet)
One of the best ways to learn something fast is to set stakes. #TFX (Click To Tweet)
Innoculate yourself against making mistakes when you’re afraid #TFX (Click To Tweet)

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Premiere! The Tim Ferriss Experiment – Live Tweeting, Giveaways, Q&A, Behind-The-Scenes, and More

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The big night has come: the premiere of The Tim Ferriss Experiment!

Starting now (3pm PT, 6pm ET) and ending around 8pm PT/11pm ET on December 1st, I’ll be doing everything possible to get #TFX to trend high on Twitter. If you’re seeing this the day after, it’s still important!

This is a new critical metric that TV show execs are using to determine success or failure. Traditional Nielsen rankings aren’t enough.

Want to see my attempts to deconstruct parkour, professional poker, guns, language learning, and much more? Please help me ensure this first episode does well!

See below for how you can best help…

FIRST, WHAT I’LL BE DOING

- Live Twitter Q&A from 4:30pm PT (7:30pm ET) to at least 6pm PT (9pm ET). Ask me anything, but you must include #TFX.
- Giveaways! I’ll be giving away super cool stuff, including:

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

If you’re up for it (and it’d mean the world to me), here are the things you can do to help. This TV show has been years in the making…

  • If you have cable, tune in to “The Tim Ferriss Experiment” on HLN at 5pm PT (8pm ET). If you can’t make it today, please DVR it and watch in the next few days. It counts.
  • If you don’t have cable, please watch the show online starting at exactly 5pm PT (8pm ET). YouTube is here, and iTunes is here.  I’ll offer play-by-play commentary and live Twitter Q&A on what you’re seeing.
  • In any case, please participate in the live Twitter Q&A and giveaways! Use #TFX as much as possible. Original tweets are worth more than retweets of other people.
  • Do whatever you can to get people to use #TFX on Twitter between now and midnight!  Rally the troops, your friends, your mailing lists, your Facebook friends, your imaginary friends… Offer giveaways of your own using #TFX, reuse your most popular tweets using #TFX, etc.In short, as Gary Oldman in The Professional would say:

IMAGES OF QUOTES & ANIMATED GIFS

Special thanks to Brendan Gahan, who helped organized the below materials.

Sharing any of the below helps ensure I can film more episodes for y’all. Thank you in advance! Much more content coming (about Jony Ive, actually) soon. Here goes…

If you feel so inclined, below are some images with quotes from the show as well as a few fun animated gifs for you to easily share. Please note, if you download the images and upload any of them your Twitter account directly, it will take up a bit more real estate in the newsfeed (and lead to more exposure for the show). Have fun and enjoy.

IMAGES

One of the best ways to learn something fast is to set stakes #TFX (IMAGE )
Innoculate yourself against making mistakes when you’re afraid #TFX (IMAGE 1) (IMAGE 2)
What other impossibles do I have in my life, that I should really question? #TFX (IMAGE 1) (IMAGE 2) (IMAGE 3)
D.I.S.S. Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing & Stakes #TFX (IMAGE 1)
What’s up now David Lee Roth? #TFX (IMAGE 1)
M.E.D. The Minimum Effective Dose to unlock this song #TFX (IMAGE 1)

GIFS

Swewart showing me the ‘annoying things guitarists do’ (GIF)
That annoying thing guitarists really do, do #TFX (GIF)
The pressure. The pressure. (GIF)
The 80/20 rule (GIF)
Stewart drumming like he lives in The Matrix #TFX (GIF)

 

QUOTES TO TWEET

I’ve pulled some of my all time favorite quotes, as well as some memorable lines from the show. You can simply click to tweet.

Some of my all time favorites:

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw #TFX (Click To Tweet)
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”#TFX – Winston Churchill (Click To Tweet)
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” #TFX – George Bernard Shaw (Click To Tweet)
“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” #TFX via Aileen Norton Swift (Click To Tweet)
“A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.” #TFX – Bruce Lee (Click To Tweet)
What other impossibles do I have in my life, that I should really question? #TFX (Click To Tweet)

Memorable lines from the show:

What other impossibles do I have in my life, that I should really question? #TFX (Click To Tweet)
What’s up now David Lee Roth #TFX (Click To Tweet)
I need to figure out the minimum effective dose to learning this song, the smallest piece I can focus on to pull this off #TFX (Click To Tweet)
One of the best ways to learn something fast is to set stakes. #TFX (Click To Tweet)
Innoculate yourself against making mistakes when you’re afraid #TFX (Click To Tweet)

Thank you in advance for your support. It’s what keeps me going.

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Premiere TV Episode! "The Tim Ferriss Experiment" — Online for Free

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The_Tim_Ferriss_Experiment__Watch_The_Series_Premiere__-_upwave

You asked, and I heard you.

To those outside of the US, and to those of you who don’t own TVs — we’ve done two things:

- All episodes of The Tim Ferriss Experiment will be available on iTunes.
The first full episode is entirely free and available everywhere online! This includes…

Just for this post, I’ve disabled comments below.  Please let me know what you think of Episode One on this page!  This has been a labor of love, and I hope you enjoy it.

ALSO:  For the TV premiere — 8pm ET (5pm PT) this Sunday on HLN — I will be live tweeting (#TFX) from about 7:30-9pm ET (4:30pm-6pm PT), including Q&A, giveaways, and behind-the-scenes goodies.  Please join me!

Much more to come… :)

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