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Strange Habits of Great Writers

Raksha Kulkarni Mar 17, 2020
All writers can relate to the struggle of starting something with a whole blank page. For that, we take a lot of inspiration from the famous authors who have contributed so much to literature. But, they weren't perfect either. Here are some strange habits some of the language "Gods" had.
"Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered potholder."
-Raymond Chandler
Writing is an art and it does need a lot of inspiration and creativity. All of us have at least one thing that inspires us to do more and better. And, we need it the most while overcoming a writer's block.
Don't worry, it's not only you, because all the famous writers have also experienced it. No doubt, these geniuses had a lot of talent and the gift of playing with words. But, they also had some secret ways which added a magical touch to their talent. Some of the writers adopted some very weird habits to do better!
In the following sections, we enlist some common traits or habits shared by writers, and then a few bizarre habits of some great writers.

Strange Habits

Writing Horizontally

Some famous writers used lying down as a method to get focused, before starting to write. Writers like Mark Twain, Marcel Proust, Woody Allen, George Orwell, and Edith Wharton are some of them who practiced this very often.
Truman Capote, an American author and playwright, took the next step by publicly calling himself a "completely horizontal author". Who would have thought that the comfort of our bed could be used in such a way?

Writing too Vertically

Just when we are talking about comfort in lying down, some authors found it in standing when writing! Yes, there are many of them who wrote most of their speeches or novels on the typewriter, by standing.
Famous people like Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Roth, Lewis Carroll, and Virginia Woolf are some of them. It is also proven that this technique has health benefits. So all the health-freak writers out there could opt for this.

Colorful Writing

There are many people who took a further step into creativity by adding more colors to their writings.
✦ Alexandre Dumas, the French author of "The Three Musketeers" was very particular about the color of his page. The colors were all fixed like pink for non-fiction, blue for fiction novels, and yellow for his poetry.
✦ Virginia Woolf also used different-colored inks, especially green, blue, and purple. Purple was her favorite but it was used only for writing letters.


✦ William Faulkner met Sherwood Anderson, and fell in love with the idea of writing and then drinking whiskey for the whole day.
It resulted in him keeping a whiskey bottle within reach, all the time. Jack Daniels and Mint Julep were his favorite and you may see them on his grave.
✦ It's impossible to not think of Stephen King when talking about drinking. He thought that he would lose his creativity spark because of sobriety. His drinking was so that he didn't even remember writing Cujo.
✦ Also, we have to mention Oscar Wilde. His witty one-liners about alcohol have floored his readers.

✦ Drinking coffee would be normal, if you're not drinking 40 - 50 cups per day. Honoré de Balzac, a French novelist, drank so many cups to gear up his creativity and writing.

Some Notable Mentions

✦ Dan Brown, the author of the best-seller Da Vinci Code, hangs upside down for writer's block. He admits that this helps him relax and concentrate better. Also, he keeps an hourglass on his desk as a reminder to do stretches, push-ups, and sit-ups every hour.
✦ Francine Prose, author of Blue Angel, thinks that facing a wall is the best way to focus on writing. She thinks that there is minimal distraction in that and hence helps a lot.
✦ Victor Hugo has taken writing to another level. When he had stringent deadlines, he instructed his attendant to take away all his clothes. This was done so that he won't leave the house and would focus only on writing. Even in the coldest of weather, he was only left with a blanket to cover himself. Such dedication!
✦ Demosthenes, a Greek writer, shaved half his head to look idiotic. It only meant that he would have to stay home until his hair grows back. Writing was a better option than getting ridiculed by people.
✦ Vladimir Nabokov, this man loved index cards. All his novels were written on handy 3 x 5 inch cards, which were always kept in slim boxes. He practiced this method because he would always get the freedom of re-arranging the sequence of the scenes anyhow, later.
✦ Joan Didion believed that she had to sleep in the same room, where her book that she was about to end, was kept. She thought that in this way, the book would never leave her.
✦ James Joyce was almost blind because of complications in his childhood myopia. He always wore a white coat, and wrote with crayons while lying on his stomach in bed. The crayons helped him understand what he's writing and the white coat helped in reflecting more light.
✦ Eudora Welty had this habit of pinning all her stories to the wall. She used a paste and put the stories in a long line. If the walls weren't enough, she used the bed and the table too.
✦ Mary Shelley was a person who listened to her pet snake about when to stop working. She had a 23-foot long boa constrictor in her writing studio.
Whenever she started writing, she used to wrap the long snake around her shoulders. She kept writing until the snake started becoming restless, which meant squeezing her. The moment it started doing that, she stopped writing for the day.