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Visualized: The Daily Routines of Famous Creatives

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A grid of donut charts showing the daily routines of 16 great artists, writers, and thinkers.

Visualized: The Daily Routines of Famous Creatives

What is the best daily routine to unlock creativity, or is there such a thing?

Many modern suggestions for optimizing creativity—like scheduling time for “deep work,” and building small, sustainable “atomic habits”—can be traced back to famous creatives in many different eras. And though they all found success, they employed different methods as well.

In this unique visualization, RJ Andrews from InfoWeTrust has charted how notable creatives in different fields spent their days. He picked 16 of the 161 “inspired minds” covered by Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, a book by writer and editor Mason Currey published in 2013.

How Much “Creativity Time” in Famous Daily Routines?

Dividing the day into 24 hours, Andrews denoted certain categories for daily activities like working creatively, sleeping, and other miscellaneous endeavors (meals, leisure, exercise, and social time).

For the creatives with a separate day job—Immanuel Kant and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart—their ordinary labor is also counted in miscellaneous activities.

Below is a breakdown of the daily routine of all 16 people featured above:

NameOccupationCreative (hrs)Sleep (hrs)Miscellaneous (hrs)
Maya AngelouWriter/Poet97.57.5
W.H. AudenPoet11.575.5
Honoré de BalzacNovelist13.58.52
L.V. BeethovenComposer / Pianist888
Le CorbusierArchitect8.578.5
Charles DarwinNaturalist / Biologist/ Geologist789
Charles DickensWriter5712
Gustave FlaubertNovelist10.576.5
Sigmund FreudPsychologist12.565.5
Benjamin FranklinWriter / Inventor / Scientist / Statesman879
Victor HugoWriter2814
Immanuel KantPhilosopher7710
Thomas MannNovelist888
John MiltonPoet879
W.A. MozartComposer / Pianist8511
P.I. TchaikovskyComposer4.5811.5

The average and median amount of time spent on creative work for these individuals was just over 8 hours a day. At the extremes were two French novelists, Honoré de Balzac with 13.5 hours daily spent on creative work, and Victor Hugo with only 2 hours.

Interestingly, the allocation of creative work time was different in almost every daily routine. Maya Angelou’s routine resembles the modern work day, with the bulk of her writing between 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Others like Kant and Mozart had creativity blocks when time allowed, such as before and after their teaching jobs.

Then there are outliers like Honoré de Balzac and Sigmund Freud, who worked as much as they could. Balzac wrote from 1:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with just an hour and a half nap break in between, fueled by up to 50 cups of coffee. Freud split up his creative work into three different blocks: analyzing patients in the morning, consulting in the afternoon, and reading and writing journals into the late evening.

But somewhere in their days, most of these brilliant minds made sure to get a good rest, with an average of 7.25 hours of sleep across the board.

Schedule Yourself to Create Success

Creativity may ebb and flow, but these great minds had one clear thing in common: scheduling time for creative work.

The perfect daily routine was usually what fit in with their lifestyle (and their bodies), not based on an arbitrary amount of work. For example, night owls with later chronotypes worked late, while socialites and politicians found time outside of their commitments.

They also found time to move and enjoy life. Half of the people in the dataset specified exercise in their accounts—either leisurely strolls or fast walks. Many also scheduled social time with partners, friends, or children, often paired with a meal.

Perhaps the greatest insight, however, is that the day-to-day routine doesn’t have to look extraordinary to be able to create extraordinary work.

Much of the data is sourced from personal anecdotes by the artists themselves, or from biographers, researched and collected by Currey in Daily Rituals. In some cases, Andrews needed to assume habits — usually sleep — due to missing, or non-specific information.
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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Misc

Infographic: The Next Characters to Enter the Public Domain

This infographic shows which popular characters will be entering the public domain over the next 15 years.

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Infographic showing which popular characters that will enter public domain in coming years

The Next Characters to Enter the Public Domain

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Copyright is a type of intellectual property right that protects authors’ original works, meaning that their art cannot be used without approval. However, copyright protections do not last forever—eventually, all original work will enter the public domain.

In this graphic, we visualize the popular characters that are set to enter the public domain in the next 15 years, using data compiled from several sources.

How Does a Character Enter the Public Domain?

The amount of time a given work is protected by copyright varies, but this window typically lasts 70 years after the author’s death or 95 years after publication. Once the copyright expires, the work enters the public domain, signaling time for anyone to enjoy and interact with them without legal repercussions.

Which Characters Will Have Their Copyrights Expire Next?

The Brothers Grimm version of Snow White has already had its copyright expire. However, Disney’s iconic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs version will only enter public domain in 2032.

On January 1st, 2024, the Steamboat Willie versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse entered public domain (and already, content creators are seizing the opportunity). The modern version of Mickey Mouse will follow suit in roughly 15 years.

Below is a list of popular characters that will be entering the public domain in coming years.

CharacterYear expected to enter the public domain
Sleeping Beautyalready public domain
Snow Whitealready public domain
Pinocchioalready public domain
Peter Panalready public domain
Tinkerbellalready public domain
Captain Hookalready public domain
Winnie-the-Poohalready public domain
Mickey Mouse (Steamboat Willie version)already public domain
Minnie Mouse (Steamboat Willie version)already public domain
Popeye2025
Pluto2026
Betty Boop2026
Goofy2028
Donald Duck2029
King Kong2029
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Disney version)2032
Superman2034
Bugs Bunny2035
Batman2035
Joker2036
Captain America2036
Wonder Woman2037
Mickey Mouse (Disney version)2037
Bambie2038

Several of Mickey’s companions—including Pluto (2026), Goofy (2028), and Donald Duck (2029)—will be entering public domain in the next five years along with Betty Boop (2026), King Kong (2029), and Bugs Bunny (2035).

The copyright on many of DC Comics’ stars—like Superman, Batman, the Joker, and Wonder Woman—will expire in the 2030s.

If you found this interesting, check out this visualization on the world’s top media franchises of all-time by revenue.

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