Salvador Dali, surrealist painter, in bed. Photo by Bettmann, via Getty Images. Hey there. Some of you might be wondering why I haven’t sent out a V. Note in a while. I love writing V. Notes, and I am still not at a loss for subject matter. I have a file where I keep artists and ideas I’d like to talk about, and it has hundreds (I exaggerate not) hundreds of entries. So there is no shortage of inspiration. To tell you the truth, it’s about time. I always have trouble with time, but these strange and melting days, dramatic and horrible, seem to slide into each other, punctuated with a new rhythm of time marks: an increasing number of terrible news events. This miasma is now the new normal, and it is something I am determined to find a way to work with. I’ve started changing the time I do things, shifting my daily routine. I have a tendency to write V. Notes late at night. Some of you may have noticed that while the V. Notes send out at a bright and cheerful 7:00am, the time stamp on most of them is actually closer to 2:00am. I stay up to write because at night it’s quiet, there are fewer interruptions, I have the helpful deadline of “I won’t go to bed until I finish this”, and the biggest of all benefits: I had myself totally bewitched into thinking that 10:30pm-1:30am is actually a secret pocket of time that doesn’t exist for the rest of the world, so I’m essentially getting an extra three hours every day. But then after feeling so wonderfully creative and productive, I start the next day late, feeling behind and out of step, depressed and anxious, so the whole “secret pocket of additional time that’s not included in the 24 hour clock” trick doesn’t really work too well. Tilda Swinton sleeps in a glass box as part of an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery 1995 in London. Photo by Andrew Winning/AFP/Getty Images Here’s what I did a few weeks ago: I implemented a bedtime. Yes, a bedtime. I have progressed to age 10. And I am sticking to it. While this removed my most creative and productive time of the day, and initially I was sleeping about as well as a tightly wound cuckoo clock, after two weeks my body started to adjust, and it started to relax into a rhythm. Going to bed at a regular time and getting up in the morning has improved my health, my stress, and my mood. I believe it will also (eventually) improve my creative productivity. Next on my list of challenges is to figure out when to do all of the things I want to do, like write, draw, wash my dishes, prepare for classes, and call a friend. Today is my first day writing for one hour, between 10:00pm and 11:00pm. So far so good, though I see I only have 3 minutes left, and I have not finished! The rest will be something I look forward to. Have you read the 2013 book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work? It’s a collection of daily routines supporting creative work; artist’s routines, and perhaps worth a re-read as all of our clocks are reset by quarantine. What time do creative people get up in the morning? What time do they go to bed? Do they drink coffee? Raise children? How do the world’s most brilliant artists make time energy to do their work? The book is a strange and fascinating collection of human behaviors by people who do creative work – some inspiring, some horrifying. Here is an excerpt: How do you do meaningful creative work while also earning a living? Is it better to devote yourself wholly to a project or to set aside a small portion of each day? And when there doesn’t seem to be enough time for all you hope to accomplish, must you give things up (sleep, income, a clean house), or can you learn to condense activities, to do more in less time, to “work smarter, not harder,” as my dad is always telling me? More broadly, are comfort and creativity incompatible, or is the opposite true: Is finding a basic level of daily comfort a prerequisite for sustained creative work? …[How] grand creative visions translate to small daily increments; how one’s working habits influence the work itself, and vice versa. Writing it, I often thought of a line from a letter Kafka sent to his beloved Felice Bauer in 1912. Frustrated by his cramped living situation and his deadening day job, he complained, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straight-forward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.” Poor Kafka! But then who among us can expect to live a pleasant, straightforward life? For most of us, much of the time, it is a slog, and Kafka’s subtle maneuvers are not so much a last resort as an ideal. Here’s to wriggling through. (Read more excerpts here) Most of the artists featured in Mason’s book are men, and to my relief, he published “a sequel, and a corrective” in Daily Rituals; Women at Work, featuring the day-to-day working lives of 143 women writers, artists, and performers, including: Octavia Butler, who wrote every day no matter what. “Screw inspiration,” she said.Isak Dinesen, who subsisted on oysters and champagne but also amphetamines, which gave her the overdrive she required.The American sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who believed female artists should never marry and thus “waged an eternal feud with the consolidating knot.”Martha Graham, who eschewed socializing in favor of long hours alone in her studio: “Talk is a privilege and one must deny oneself that privilege.”Lillian Hellman, who chain-smoked three packs of cigarettes and drank twenty cups of coffee a day (after milking the cow and cleaning the barn on her Hardscrabble Farm), and who carried projects forward on successive currents of “elation, depression, hope.” So, dear brilliantly creative reader, how has the quarantine effected your daily life? How do you make time for your creative work? What time do you go to sleep? What time do you get up? Have you survived on coffee and banana splits? Do you have times of fallow, work in spurts, or do you have a clockwork discipline? How is it working, or not working? I’d love to hear how you’re handling the challenges. Let me know! Next V. Notes: “Smoke” Artwork Submissions, Portrait Contest Invitation, and drawings made by a woman who is legally blind.