Tortured Artist Fallacy

I always had it it my mind that most of the romantics – the writers, artists, musicians, were all probably hopeless alcoholics, being able only to produce one serious piece of work before falling into a drunken stupor and dying prematurely, only to be portrayed by a Johnny Depp type hundreds of years later.

This all changed when i read Mason Curry’s Daily Rituals .

In the book he describes in detail the productivity ritual of people such as Karl Marx, Woody Allen, Agatha Christie, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, and Pablo Picasso.

And once you read it, you can see how they got so much done. Not by being hopelessly romantic. Not by stumbling upon incredible talent as if God just gave them pre-packaged.

It was from routine. Ritual. Deciding a way to get their work done and religiously following it.

There are countless quotes on productivity from the masters in the book – all not just inspiring but demonstrate that it was at the core of what someone who truly is creative does.

This is my issue with the “Tortured Artist”. An artist who is not producing work is by definition not an artist.

We need to realise that most self made people don’t become that way due to some exotic and totally unique talent. It’s the combination of talent and a rigorous productivity schedule.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m dedicating a lot of what I write in this blog about productivity, as I think that although there is a lot of material on it, it definitely warrants further work.


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