Bizarre Habits of Famous Authors


Do you think that wordsmiths are a little peculiar?

Does fiddling around with vowels and consonants all day drive our eccentricities, or were we just born that way?

Most of us probably aren’t as strange as we think we are … relatively speaking, of course! Here are some examples of famous authors who definitely had some, shall we say, unusual methods for keeping the words flowing:

  • Mark Twain, Truman Capote, George Orwell, Edith Wharton, Winston Churchill, and Marcel Proust all preferred to write while lying in bed.
  • Demosthenes shaved half his head so that he would be too embarrassed to leave home until his writing was finished.
  • Honoré de Balzac would down black coffee so he could write for long stretches—often for more than 48 hours at a time. (Hey, what’s weird about that???)
  • Ernest Hemingway stood while he met his 500-word-per-day, self-imposed quota. His writing regimen was to be “done by noon and drunk by three.”
  • Charles Dickens would go for walks (20 miles or so every day) and try to get lost in order to spark his creativity.
  • James Joyce felt that it was a productive day if he composed just three sentences. (How would your manager feel about that?)
  • Vladimir Nabokov wrote on index cards in no particular order. One of his books consisted of 2,000 index cards.
  • William Wordsworth would recite his poetry to his dog while taking strolls. If the dog barked or was upset as he read, he would rewrite the draft.
  • Friedrich Schiller kept a drawerful of rotten apples in his study. His wife claimed that he could not live or work without the awful aroma.
  • Alexandre Dumas could only write poetry on yellow paper, articles on pink paper, and novels on blue paper.
  • Victor Hugo wrote both Les Misèrables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in the nude so he wouldn’t be tempted to leave his house. He even had his valet hide his clothes.
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s beloved cat, Catterina, would sit on Poe’s shoulders while he wrote.
  • French novelist Colette always plucked fleas from her bulldog until she was ready to write.
  • Gertrude Stein claimed that she wrote best while seated in a parked car.
  • Agatha Christie wrote while taking baths and eating apples.
  • For many years, Maya Angelou only worked in the plainest of hotel rooms, solely accompanied by a dictionary, a Bible, a deck of cards, and a bottle of sherry.
  • Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road on 120 feet of taped-together paper so that his stream-of-consciousness writing style would not be interrupted by the need to add new sheets of paper to the typewriter.
  • John Steinbeck insisted on writing exclusively in pencil. He used over 300 of them to create The Grapes of Wrath.
  • T.S. Eliot would tint his face green with powder to look like he was dead.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

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