The Secret to Maya Angelou's Genius

Have you ever wondered what it is about the sorts of habits artists and other great thinkers have that facilitate their best work? I know I have — and luckily, that’s exactly the question that Mason Currey examines in his book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Currey’s book isn’t new — it first hit bookshelves about a year ago — but a) data like this is always relevant, and b) I’ve been seeing a lot written about it again lately, so I think it’s definitely worth revisiting. And hey, look! We’ve got infographics! I love infographics!

Info We Trust just posted a whole bunch of wonderful graphic interpretations of Currey’s data, breaking down how artists like Charles Dickens, Ludwig van Beethoven, and more structured their days. Created by data visualization artist RJ Andrews, they give us a fascinating peek into all these amazing minds. Each graphic depicts the day as a 24 hour cycle, with midnight at the standard 12 o’clock position and noon at the six o’clock on. Activities have been color-coded by type, with primary work being bright green, social and mealtimes being orange, exercise being blue, “other work” being a pale, minty sort of green, sleep being white, and “making ends meet” being grey.

All people are different, and artists are no exception; as such, it’s pretty astonishing seeing the wide variety of schedules kept by some of the most brilliant creative the world has ever known. Some of them, like Maya Angelou and Benjamin Franklin, kept pretty regular hours:

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While Sigmund Freud tended to stay up late and scatter his work evenly throughout the day:

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And then there are people like Charles Darwin, who—perhaps understandably, given the fact that he was literally all over the place—had such action-packed days it’s a wonder he didn’t drop from exhaustion at an early age:

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Me? I tend to fall more in line with the Maya Angelous and Ben Franklins; I do, however, keep a notebook by my bed in case ideas pop into my head at weird hours, and I often end up doing some of my best thinking in the shower. Obviously I am not a genius, but somehow it’s become my job to be creative, so, y’know, we all have our quirks.

Check out the whole infographic over at Info We Trust — there are 16 geniuses to choose from, and they’re all fascinating both on their own and compared to each other. Oh, and don’t forget about the book that inspired them all, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work! It’s on Amazon, so go forth and read.