Famous Authors’ Bizarre Writing Habits

Many authors have writing habits/routines that could be described as bizarre. Back in 2014 I dedicated a blog post to the subject. This is the second instalment. Here are 8 authors who have/had bizarre writing habits.

Alexandre Dumas — This French writer used different coloured paper for different types of writing. Blue was his colour of choice for fiction, pink for articles, and yellow for poetry.

Ernest Hemingway — Hemingway is one of a number of famous authors who liked/like to write standing up. His preference was to have a typewriter and reading board at chest-height opposite him.

Joan Didion — Literary journalist and novelist Joan Didion spends an hour alone before dinner with a drink, going through what she has written that day. When nearing the end of a book she sleeps in the same room as it.

James Joyce — This eccentric writer wrote in a white coat whilst lying on his stomach in bed. For writing materials he used cardboard and various coloured crayons. Joyce did this because he had poor eyesight. His white coat reflected the light.


Friedrich Schiller — German poet Schiller always kept a pile of rotten apples in the drawer of his writing desk. He believed that the aroma inspired him, and that he could not write without it.

Franz Kafka — Kafka’s career left him with little time to write. After work he would rest and eat before commencing writing at 11 p.m. This taxing regime was said to have left him permanently exhausted.

W.H. Auden — This obsessive poet used drugs to balance his routine. He swallowed the amphetamine Benzedrine every morning for 20 years. At night he took the barbiturate Seconal in order to get to sleep.

John Steinbeck — Steinbeck was obsessed with pencils, particularly Blackwing 602’s. Drafts of his books were crafted in pencil, and he always kept 12 perfectly sharpened pencils aligned on his desk. He claimed pencils charged him with invention and energy.

As for me I am prone to wearing ear defenders when writing, to eliminate distracting sounds.

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