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Ever wonder what the secret to successful creativity is? In a world where every other Facebook post is the one from that well-meaning-but-kinda-clueless friend about the 37 habits of highly creative people, the piles of contradictory and sometimes downright incorrect information can seem hopeless. Are you supposed to get up early or stay up late? Are you supposed to buckle down and work for hours at a time or take breaks throughout the day?

Well, it turns out, you should probably just do what you like. A handy infographic, based on the work of Mason Currey, shows the average daily routines of famous writers, composers, painters, and thinkers from years past, with all of their activities broken into color-coded segments so we can see when they worked, when they played, and when they slept. The information was collected from various journals, letters, and other surviving documents of their day-to-day lives.

(via Colossal)

As you can see, the habits vary from person to person. Everyone seems to like their food and leisure time, and they are all mostly diurnal. Other than that, it doesn”t seem as though sleeping in or popping out of bed at the crack of dawn seems to matter. You”ll also see that the “day job” option isn”t too common, but this could also have to do with differences in time periods. Really, the major thing these people have in common is that they documented their daily routines and seemed to stick to them, so maybe that”s where the secret lies.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

At about 6:30am, after dressing and having coffee with her husband, Angelou would commute to a hotel that she used for her writing work. The more anonymous the room, the better. She”d stay there from about 7am to 3pm, then spend the rest of the day with her husband. The half-hour blip of work at about 7:30pm was when she would read her day”s work aloud to her husband for feedback.

John Milton

John Milton

The 17th-century author of Paradise Lost has probably the largest amount of time dedicated to exercise besides Charles Dickens, who exercised at about the same time (1pm to 4pm) and both liked to walk. Milton also woke up at 4am, followed immediately by an hour of meditation, and was in bed by 9pm. Because of the time he lived in, his creative work (writing) and his “day job” would have been the same thing.

Flannery O”Connor

Flannery O

Diagnosed with lupus at only 26, O”Connor would need long periods of rest. In the 13 more years she lived, she wrote more than 24 short stories and two novels. Her afternoon leisure time, beginning at noon, was spent painting or taking care of the many birds she raised at home.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

Kafka would crawl into bed in the wee hours and struggle to sleep until finally nodding off at around 5:30am. But then he had to get up at 7 to work at an insurance firm, but only until about 2pm. Then it was nap time for about five hours.

This is the only infographic so far, but we”d like to see one with some 21st-century creatives, to see how modern life has affected creative routines, as well as a more diverse list of creative types. In the meantime, I”ll continue to marvel at the fact that William Styron has my ideal schedule and that Voltaire probably needed more sleep. On the site, you can also hover over the individual sections to learn about the specifics of their days–like Victor Hugo”s 11am rooftop ice baths.

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