Authors writing habits never cease to fascinate me. This week’s blog post is dedicated to 10 famous authors bizarre writing habits.
Flannery O’Connor – Author and essayist Flannery O’Connor explained in The Habit of Being (collection of her letters) that she not only wrote at the same time every day, but also in the same place. That special place was facing her blank wood dresser, which provided no distractions. O’Connor only wrote for about two hours a day because as she suffered from lupus she had very little energy.
Demosthenes – This ancient Greek statesman had to constantly write speeches for his numerous public speaking appearances. When he felt unmotivated to do so he would shave one side of his head, the result being that as he was reluctant to leave the house until the hair grew back, he would spend the time writing.
Eudora Welty – This iconic author and Mississippi resident admitted in a letter to a friend, William Maxwell, that she had the peculiar habit of pinning her stories together in a long strip. The stories would get so long that she would have to stack them on beds and tables.
Maya Angelou – This African-American author had a very strict writing routine that entailed leaving her home at 7 a.m. and travelling to a bare hotel room, where she would write until about 2 p.m. The only possessions Angelou would bring with her were a pack of cards, a Bible and a bottle of sherry.
Victor Hugo – This French novelist wrote The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Misérables in the nude. The reason being that it helped him avoid procrastination. Hugo, unable to leave the house unclothed, would order his valet to hide his clothes until after he had finished his writing.
Honoré de Balzac – This French novelist and playwright maintained a relentless writing routine. He would go to bed at 6 p.m. and rise at 1 a.m. before writing for seven hours. At 8 a.m. he would rest for ninety-minutes and then write until 4 p.m. De Balzac allegedly drunk 50 cups of coffee a day.
Dan Brown – Best selling contemporary author Dan Brown is an early riser, who apparently takes a break every hour from his writing to do calisthenics (stretches, sit-ups and pull-ups etc.). His bizarre writing antics do not end there. Brown, a fan of inversion therapy, often hangs upside down in antigravity boots because it helps him relax.
Truman Capote – Capote had a preference for writing lying down. While he wrote he would drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. As the day progressed he would drink mint tea, before moving on to sherry and martinis. Capote, who described himself as a ‘horizontal writer’, always wrote his first two drafts in longhand with a pencil.
Vladimir Nabokov – Nabokov had a fixation on index cards. The majority of his novels were written out on these cards with a pencil. The cards were then paper-clipped and kept in boxes. Nabokov’s rather particular writing routine did not end here. Most of his writing was done standing up.
Francine Prose – Blue Angel author Francine Prose confessed that she likes writing in her husband’s ‘red and black checked flannel pajama pants and a T-shirt.’ Prose usually writes at her desk, which faces a window, with a view consisting of a brick wall. Though the view may not be ascetically pleasing, Prose likes it because it is not distracting.
Click here to sign up for my monthly book-related newsletter.