#LitChat: Eccentric Writing Habits of Famous Writers (Infographic)

The eccentric writing habits of famous writers make me feel a bit more accepting of my own writing quirks. Let’s face it, we all have peculiarities inherent in our respective creative processes. Back when I taught a creative writing class, one of the introductory activities we would do as a class was to create a collaborative diagram of the writing process. Needless to say, the process diagram was a glorious hot mess. At any given moment while I type at my laptop, I am reassured when I look down and see a Bic MatiC grip 0.7 mm #2 mechanical pencil, a Pentel Clic Eraser, and a Pentel R.S.V.P. medium-point black ink pen. Without those three writing tools on my desk, it’s safe to say I cannot function.

 

I am now going to be posting every other week and will be cutting down to sending newsletters on a quarterly basis. Something’s gotta give at times, so with a full project plate and a yearning to do more of my own creative writing, publishing fewer posts and newsletters will allow more room in my schedule. As always, thanks for your continued support. Are you currently subscribed to Word Bank’s mailing list?

 

The infographic below from Global English Editing reveals that John Cheever like to write in his underwear, while Agatha Christie dreamed up murderous plots while eating apples in a bathtub, and Vladimir Nabokov wrote on index cards to allow easy rearranging of paragraphs. If you’re struggling a bit with the flow of a story or essay, you can do the same thing by printing a draft and cutting it apart in a revision activity called divorcing the draft. Indeed, there are numerous ways to get the writing done! Soak up some of the eccentric writing habits of famous writers listed below. I hope it will inspire you to share some of your own strange habits.

 

Go figure that Truman Capote couldn’t write with an ashtray with more than three butts in it. I guess I’m flexible, and set my limit at four stinky butts. How can you not admire the poor-sighted efforts of James Joyce? As for me, I write best in near silence and also when there are no dirty dishes in the sink.


What eccentric writing habits of famous writers could you add to this list? What quirky writing habits of your own do you care to share?

 

Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2017.

Author: Jeri Walker

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37 Comments

  1. Hmmm my habits?

    I cannot focus in a disorganised environment.

    I like to draft my post on a Wednesday and proof read up until Saturday. I do not like anything to get in the way of my plans. I usually do my draft on the train in the morning when I am fully alert. This way I have no interruptions from my family. Writing and Interruptions are not a good mix!

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    • Phoenicia, I’m in the same boat when it comes to not being able to focus well in a disorganized environment.

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  2. This post is hilariously enlightening!! A drawer full of rotting apples and inspiring!! Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚
    On a serious note, it is heartening to note that all writers struggle for inspiration and look for the right time to write. Often I wish I could write while walking because the ideas that hit at that time vanish the moment I finish my walk and even the words refuse to come back. Silence and solitude inspire me.

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    • Balroop, I’ve sometimes felt that way while out walking or jogging. I keep telling myself I will start recording my idea into a voice happ on my phone, but it has to happen.

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  3. Fun post. I’m going to write my next one in my underwear. Let me know if you notice any improvement.

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  4. I never thought about whether I have writing quirks–in the long writing process, that is. Handwriting I have to have a micro pen or man am I messy.

    I stand up to write sometimes, other times I sit at my desk. One thing stays consistent, I have to make sure my space is without clutter. I’m too easily distracted. That’s why I start writing at 6:00 when it’s still (for a long part of the year) dark outside!

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  5. Hi Jeri. Interesting infographic. I, too, need quiet when I write. But other than that, I guess I find I need to complete the small household tasks each day before I can sit down to write. I can’t concentrate if I know there are a lot of other tasks I must attend to.

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    • Doreen, I’m better than I used to be about being able to get to work with small tasks around the house left undone, but I still can’t get to work with more than a few dishes in the sink.

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  6. I have to write near a window with a view.

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    • Jan, I used to keep my blinds open when my Siamese cat practically insisted upon it, but now I keep them closed. I enjoy the view, but I’ve found the light and the situation of my desk put too much strain on my eyes.

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  7. Schiller. T. S . Elliot and Joyce are my favorite oddities, so to speak…
    It seems there are many superstitions linked to these habits and great writers: Capote was not an exception!. Although they seem to be normal, at least when it comes to cope with a traumatic writing such as “In Cold Blood” ๐Ÿ˜€
    Amazing share, dear Jeri… Thank you!. Have a great week!

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    • Aqui, I’ve been interested in aromatherapy for quite some time, but I think it’s safe to say I won’t be feeling inspired by the smell of rotting apples anytimes soon ๐Ÿ˜‰

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      • Haha! I wonยดt I wouldnยดt be inspired by that smell either. No way! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  8. It’s a very interesting article. Because of my dyslexia, my writing style is a bit of a mish mash of approaches. Some would call it organized chaos. I call it chaos with a outcome that surprises even me. ?

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  9. Love this! I’ve seen articles about this topic but most of yours are new to me and definitely too good not to share. As for me, in my home office, I prefer to write in total silence and you won’t find one bit of clutter on my desk – nada. Just my computer and a bottle of water. On the other hand, I always keep a notebook with me, even if I’m just taking my dog for a walk because often ideas pop into my head and I want to be able to jot them down so I don’t lose them. Also, for some reason, I find train rides especially inspiring, so I understand Woody Allen’s ability to write on the subway.

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    • Marty, I’ve often wondered if I could adapt to writing on a train or ferry. I suppose I could, and doing so would make great use of commuting time. I’m thankful though that my morning commute takes less than thirty seconds!

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  10. Wow, I didn’t know that writers were so quirky. Fun post, thanks for sharing. I do my best idea creation when cleaning or organizing my home. So, I carry around a notepad to jot down the ideas I have for future posts, future class topics, or services.

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    • Sabrina, I do have a small notepad in my purse, but I’ve yet to really use it to record ideas that strike. I need to fix that. A couple of months ago, I started a dream journal that I know keep on my nightstand. That’s has been fun and enlightening, especially since dreams can make great fodder for story ideas.

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  11. What a great infographic! I appreciate the wry humor too. Thanks for sharing this fun post, Jeri. I also use index cards for notes on characters, plot etc. It hasn’t resulted in the kind of writing Nabokov produced—oh, well ๐Ÿ˜‰ One thing I’ve done that’s kind of different, is draw a portrait of my main character from a scene. I prop it up when I’m writing her story. The visual seems to work for me. 3 cigarette butts…only three! Too funny!

    Good luck with your writing Jeri and I can certainly understand the time requirement. Blogging is more time consuming than it looks. I look forward to reading your work.

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    • Lisa, blogging is indeed a big time commitment. It feels good to be at a point where I no longer feel I need to post once a week. It’s crazy to think that when I first started, I posted five days a week. Never again!

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  12. Such a fun infographic! I pinned it to my “Why Writing is Weird” board. I was just thinking this morning, while I was procrastinating by cleaning out my office, that I’ll do almost anything to actually avoid writing. I think that’s my worst writing habit!

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    • Meredith, I love that you have “Why Writing is Weird” board. I’m quite the procrastinator myself when it comes to writing. Starting is always the hardest part for me.

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  13. Loved the infographic and learning about the quirks of famous writers. The habit of standing to write is one that Hemingway โ€œhad from the beginning,โ€ explained George Plimpton in an interview with the author. โ€œHe stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kuduโ€”the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him.”

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    • Jeannette, I’ve typed standing up a few times at my breakfast bar a few times and rather liked it. I need to give it a go more often. I think Hemingway was onto something ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  14. This is such an interesting at the same time fun infographic ๐Ÿ™‚ to be shared. Was not aware of the quirks of the writers, thanks for sharing

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  15. I guess it does not matter how you do it, as long as it gets completed and you are satisfied with it.
    As for me, I go on marathons. I might weeks without writing, then it hits me. I cannot stop until my story, or novel is completed. After it is done, I then take the time to go back and remove all the mistakes from the fast writing I did.

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    • William, there are so many ways to get the writing done. I’m always fascinated on how varied the writing process can be from person to person.

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  16. Ohhh! Some of those “quirks” seemed too hilarious to be true ๐Ÿ˜€ I will have to try writing poetry on horseback.. now if I could only find a horse.. ((giggling at your post and thinking myself not so strange now))

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    • Christy, if I go by the horse ride I went on this summer up in the mountains, there would be no way I could compose poetic lines while in the saddle. The creature kept trying to rub against the pine trees we passed in order to brush me off!

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