“I sometimes draw what I’m eating for breakfast. I have spent thirty minutes just drawing every nook and crevice on a slice of rye toast.” – Danny Gregory Share this quote on Twitter

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Danny Gregory

What is your morning routine?

6:45am: Open eyes,
6:47am: Stagger to the bathroom,
6:49am: Shamble to the kitchen,
6:51am: Make some creative thing while the kettle heats up.

I have various little projects for this first slice of the day. For a while, I sat at the kitchen counter, looked into a mirror, and drew a selfie. Each day’s drawing looked totally different, depending on how I felt and how I felt I looked.

Danny Gregory’s selfie drawing

During another period, I drew the view out the right hand kitchen window, of the tops of the trees in Washington Square Park. I sometimes draw what I’m eating for breakfast. I have spent thirty minutes just drawing every nook and crevice on a slice of rye toast.

Recently, I started drawing my tea cup in a special sketchbook just for drawings of my tea cup. It’s more or less the same cup each day, but my drawings still differ with my moods and degree of sleepiness. At another point, I borrowed an idea from my old pal Tommy Kane and I would draw a photo from the front page of the New York Times. That became depressing after a while.

I don’t always draw. This summer, I went through a period where I’d take my dogs to the park and write down ten ideas on my phone. Some days, I’d just come up with a list of lists of ideas. (Here’s an example of part of one of those lists: 10 ways to make kids more creative, 10 ways to fix meetings, 10 ways to be a good boss, 10 places I’d like to live for three months, 10 short documentaries I could make, 10 ways to eat less, 10 benefits of aging, 10 undetectable ways to kill someone, 10 improvements to a tea kettle, 10 things they should teach in school but don’t.) Then on other days, I’d open up the next list and make myself think of ten ideas under that heading. James Altucher put that game in my head and it was fun to play along.

At other points, I would start the day by writing a blogpost. Or at least the germ of an outline of an idea for a concept for a blogpost, a few paragraphs that I might polish once I’d had my cuppa tea.

Generally I keep making something until my wife gets up and I have to take the dogs out. Usually, half an hour tops.

What time do you go to sleep?

I go to bed around 10-10:30pm. Then I read for half an hour.

I fall asleep almost immediately but I’m not a great sleeper and at least once a week I wake up at 3:30am or so and can’t get back to sleep. I usually read my Kindle which has a soft glow and won’t disturb my wife. Sometimes, I’ll wake up with an idea that keeps batting around my skull and I’ll get up and go out to sit at my desk and write it down. That usually gets it out of my head and quiets the voice. Most of the time, when I reread the idea in the morning, it’s crap.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

If I set an alarm, I will wake up several times during the night to see if it’s gone off. But if I tell myself to get up at a certain time, I almost always do, automatically and without mechanical aid.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I eat relatively soon after I get up. I usually eat while I draw or write. I like oats (raw with a little milk, maybe some applesauce).

Do you have a morning workout routine?

God, no. Well, I walk my dogs. Does that count? They are getting old and move slowly so probably not.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

I guess drawing is my meditation.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

Sadly, I do look at my email earlier than I should. I rarely answer it then though. I just mark it unread and deal with when my work day officially starts, at 9:00am.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

On the contrary, apps tend to interfere. Though I do write ideas in Evernote.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

Since my son graduated and moved out, my parental anxiety gets the better of me and I glance at my phone while I’m getting out of bed, just to see if the police left me a text message.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

English tea with milk. Iced coffee in the summer.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

More or less. I would like to work the same way on the weekends but I know it irritates my wife. I sometimes wait to eat until she is up and we go and get bagels. I generally read the Sunday Times too. I have not been able to sleep in since 1994 when my son was born.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

I travel a lot and admittedly, it’s harder to keep to this sort of schedule. I feel as if I am not living my normal life. Plus I wonder if there’s a good breakfast buffet.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

I don’t beat myself up. I am a pretty productive person and I will make up for changes in my routine somehow.


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