All writers dream of knocking out thousands of words a day, publishing multiple pieces a year and seeing their work skyrocket to the top of the bestseller lists and award podiums. But how do we get there? Let’s look at what famous authors do. Many are notorious for their daily routines — sometimes outrageous, obsessive, and extremely peculiar. It makes you wonder how they could write on what seems to be a recurring theme of personal idiosyncrasy. For example, Wallace Stevens composed his poetry on slips of paper while walking — an activity he saw as a creative stimulant; Edgar Allan Poe wrote his final drafts on separate pieces of paper attached into a running scroll with sealing wax.
Everyone has their own unique habits that help them to be more creative, and to show us that these habits might not be as strange as those of famous authors and writers, Trust Essays has put together the following infographic. It features such authors as Truman Capote and T.S. Eliot and gives us a better idea of their writing process. Take a look below, grab a drink or have a puff and find out how famous authors did their thing.
10 weird writing habits of famous authors
Truman would supposedly write supine, with a glass of sherry in one hand and a pencil in another. He said of himself as of a “completely horizontal author”. He can’t think unless he’s lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch with a cigarette and coffee handy.
To publish a definitive collection of short stories in one’s late 60’s seemed to him, as an American writer, a traditional and a dignified occasion, eclipsed in no way by the fact that a great many of the stories in his current collection were written in his underwear. Why rumple and wrinkle a suit when you can do the same thing in your skivvies?
The famous author of Blue Angel and president of PEN American Center confided that when she’s writing, she wears her husband’s red and black checkered flannel pajama pants and a t-shirt, and writes while facing the wall.
Famous author Ernest Hemingway famously said he write 500 words a day, mostly in the mornings, to avoid the heat. Though a prolific writer, he also knew when to stop. In a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934, he wrote, “I wrote one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
Faulkner drank a lot of whiskeys when he was writing. It all started when he met Sherwood Anderson. They used to go to a drinking place and sit around till one or two o’clock drinking. And he thought then, “if that was the life it took to be a writer, that was the life for me.”
Lyndall Gordan writes in T.S. Eliot: A Modern Life that in the early 1920s, the author answered to “Captain Eliot” in his hideaway above Chatto & Windus, a publishing house on St. Martin’s Lane; however at another hideaway on Charing Cross Road, visitors were asked to inquire at the porter’s lounge for a man known only as “The Captain”. Upstairs, Eliot’s face was “tinted green with powder to look cadaverous.” What can we say? The man was an eccentric genius for good reason.
She used to write only about two hours every day because that was all the energy she had, but she didn’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place. Since she had lupus, any activity was incredibly taxing for her during the end of her life, so she sat facing the blank surface of her wood dresser, which provided no distraction.
Most of his novels were written on handy 3×5 inch cards, which would be paper-clipped and stored in slim boxes. His schedule was flexible, but he was rather particular about his instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.
This famous author used to use ordinary paste and put the story together in one long strip, that could be seen as a whole and at a glance — helpful and realistic. When the stories got too long for the room, she took them up on the bed or table and pinned… she could almost read them in any direction.
This famous author used a typewriter. He wrote ten pages a day, triple-spaced, which means about 1,800 words. If he could finish that in three hours, then he was through for the day. He wrote while leaning over a refrigerator because he was so tall.
What is your unique writing habit? Do you like to write while drinking or in your underwear like these famous authors? Do you wear a special pair of pants? Share your writing habits with us in the comments below or on social media.