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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