David Lynch Explains How Simple Daily Habits Enhance His Creativity

At first glance, Madame Bovary and Blue Velvet would seem to have little in common, as would their creators. But the artistic life Gustave Flaubert led and the one David Lynch now leads share a basic precept: “Be regular and orderly in your life,” as the former once put it, “so that you may be violent and original in your work.” Lynch has spoken about his ways as an artistic creature of habit many times over the years, as demonstrated by the interview clip compilation above. “Some people have heard the story that I went to Bob’s Big Boy for seven years every day at 2:30 and had the same thing,” he told Jay Leno in 1992. “That was my longest habit pattern, I think.”

Lynch’s regularity at that Los Angeles burger joint is just one of the routines that has structured his existence. “I like habitual behavior because it’s a known factor,” he says, “and then your mind is free to think about other things.” When life has an order, he later told Charlie Rose, “then you’re free to mentally go off any place. You’ve got a safe sort of foundation, and a place to spring off from.”

More recently, on a phone Q&A for the David Lynch Foundation, the auteur described his routine thus: “I wake up and I brush my teeth and I use the bathroom. Then I have a cappuccino and some cigarettes. Then I mediate, and then I have either some amrit nectar or a small smoothie with protein powder and blueberries and peaches. And then I go to work.”

However contradictory they may seem, Lynch’s long-standing twin loves of smoking and meditation both express themselves as routine actions. And if the backgrounds of his Youtube videos — including his little-varying daily Los Angeles weather reports — are anything to go by, he performs them in the kind of uncluttered physical space he’s long preferred: “The purer the environment,” as he puts it, “the more fantastic the interior world can be.” His 1980s and 90s comic strip The Angriest Dog in the World took place in such an environment, its nearly unchanging visuals and increasingly bizarre text an artistic correlative to his ideas about daily life and the imagination. But whatever their interest in his methods, Lynch’s fans want to know one thing above all: what the imagination of this least angry of all artists will bring forth next.

Related Content:

How David Lynch Got Creative Inspiration? By Drinking a Milkshake at Bob’s Big Boy, Every Single Day, for Seven Straight Years

An Animated David Lynch Explains Where He Gets His Ideas

David Lynch Explains How Meditation Boosts Our Creativity (Plus Free Resources to Help You Start Meditating)

David Lynch Creates Daily Weather Reports for Los Angeles: How the Filmmaker Passes Time in Quarantine

The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People, Presented in an Interactive Infographic

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

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  • Mr K says:

    I think many artists of all kind share these patterns. Call them also structure. That you establish probably in stead of a given one when you’re an employee e.g.
    The saying goes for example that people adjusted their pocket watches after the daily afterlunch walk of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1727-1804). (a.s.o.).
    Greetings from Switzerland.

  • Nihar says:

    Nothing can beat the power of good habits. If habits are not in control and we start to harbor bad habits nothing can stop us from facing bad consequences that comes along. The choice is ours. Both are not easy. Building good habits and giving up bad habits when that becomes old, we get hooked by staying long with either. It is these habits that can make or break our creative loop.

    Creativity is no exception, and unlike popular perception where creativity is seen as something random, arbitrary and unorganized. Creativity needs much more discipline and organized way of working to get the best out of our creative endeavor. The daily habits becomes a feeder to our creative pursuit and once we are in the positive loop we get a multiplier effect.

    The creative work to get going we need a space to play out things and contest ideas, toss up things and fly our thoughts to catch the best ideas…it needs a mental space free from worries and not getting stuck in the wheels of routine workings. The routines if not put in order has the tendency to come in the way of our creative working, and it is highly disturbing and if allowed it keeps nagging. This keeps prolonging and allowed for longer time becomes a disease.

    Hence, it is so important to get the habitual working in perfect order and allow the balance time ample opportunity to freely and fearlessly juggle with its imaginative ideas. Creativity is had working and creativity needs freedom in a control environment to get the juicy meat out of the bone marrow.

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