Quirky Habits of Famous Writers

Quircky habits of Famous Writers

As writers we are willing to go to great length to tempt our muses and get the writing down on the page. Some have a favourite pen, a journal or a cosy corner to jot down their inspired words. This works for some writers. For others the writing does not flow unless the writer is willing to take extreme measures. Below are some famous writers in history who took to unusual methods to get their words on the page.

  1. Writing NakedΒ 

To write his book ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ within the set deadline, Victor Hugo placed himself under house arrest. He told his valet to banish all his clothes so he would not be able to go out. He wrote wearing only a knitted gray shawl.

Β 2. Β Writing Vertically

Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Wolfe, Philip Roth, Vladimir Nabokov and Lewis Carroll wrote standing up. Some of these writers used a tall writing desk while some others worked with what they had like the top of a refrigerator. Nabokov also did most of his writing on index cards.

3. Writing Horizontally

“I am a completely horizontal author.” Truman Capote

Mark Twain wrote lying in bed. Woody Allen, Marcel Proust, George Orwell and Truman Capote share this habit of writing in bed or while lounging on a sofa.

4. Writing by Candlelight

Jack Kerouac lighted a candle ritually and prayed before beginning to write. He snuffed it out when he was done for the night.

5. Writing in Uniform

James Joyce suffered from a lot of eye problems and was nearly blind. He wrote with a large blue pencil, lying on his stomach in bed.’Finnegans Wake’ was composed with crayons on cardboard. He wore a milkman’s uniform as he believed it caught sunlight and reflected on to his page.

6. Writing while Riding

Sir Walter Scott composed most of his epic poem ‘Marmion’ while on horseback.


Do you have any quirky writing habit? How far are willing to go to get your story down?


50 thoughts on “Quirky Habits of Famous Writers

  1. Maybe I’m weird, but I write in bed with my laptop on my lap. I know, that’s so bizarre! I don’t understand how they could write a novel by hand. My hand hurts after writing something for 10 minutes. Aside from all that, this was really interesting and it taught me something I never knew, so thank you very much for that.

    1. I wish I could do that. My laptop is ancient and too bulky for me to put it on my lap and write in bed. I do write in longhand while lazing on the bed though.I think writing by hand frees my creativity more as I’m not constantly editing as I tend to do on my laptop.

  2. Wow! Victor Hugo was brave – no way would I sit and write, wrapped only in a woollen shawl *haha*

    This is a really interesting article, thank you so much for sharing these writers’ quirky habits.

    I don’t think I have any writers quirks ‘tho I like to write with a fresh cup of tea beside me!

    With blessings, Callie (CreaTEAvity), London, UK #blogelina

    1. I don’t know how Victor Hugo’s trick worked for him. Not getting out of the house is one thing but I wonder what was the protocol if someone arrived unexpectedly at his house? I too enjoy a cup of hot masala chai while writing and that’s one of the focal points of our writer’s group where me meet every Sunday:)

  3. It always cracks me up to hear the “behind-the-scenes” of things like this. Just that they are able to write such beautiful things is amazing. Maybe I should try some on the list and I could get even more written! πŸ™‚ #BlogelinaCommentathon

    1. Some on the list are too scary for me to try out but I think I should give writing standing up a try. I don’t know how much it will entice the muse but I think it’s definitely more healthier for my back!

  4. As long as I have a notebook and pen I can write almost anywhere, although I would not be keen to write standing up! I am not at the mercy of electronic equipment and I can scribble out and develop ideas. Maybe scribbling is my ‘author’s quirk’!!

    1. I make it a point to have a pen and a notebook wherever I go to jot down any ideas I might have. If I don’t have these handy I just jot it down on the Notes app on my mobile phone. I definitely think scribbling is an ‘author quirk’! You never know, it can be good fodder for a poem or a story in the future!

  5. I have to write an outline in my journal with pen and paper, before I transfer my thoughts to my laptop. I have tons of journals, notebooks, binders, folders etc. Also, I enjoy writing to nice jazz, reggae, and soul music depending on what it is I am writing either for my blog or if it is a poem or short story.

    @Blogelina Commentathon

  6. It’s funny what you need to do sometimes to get inspiration! I wonder if I ought to try some of these especially the horseback πŸ™‚ Can’t imagine what Scott’s writing turned out like!

  7. What an interesting list of quirks. I tend to write in bed, ‘in my head’ going over and over and refining each phrase before grabbing a pencil and jotting it down. I rarely change things after they are committed to paper because by then they have usually been written, rewritten & edited multiple times!

  8. Quirky indeed! Can’t quite figure out the writing on horseback one. I prefer to type on the computer. If I’m out and about I tend to have SEVERAL pieces of paper with notes, usually scattered about and wishing I was more organized πŸ™ Great post, I like quirky πŸ™‚

  9. I am a librarian, so I found your post so interesting. It is always a great thing to know the quirkiness of writers. I am guessing it is those things that make them great! Thanks!

  10. I don’t think I have any interesting writing quirks when I am writing blog posts. I simply sit down at my desk and write. πŸ™‚ This was such a fun post, Chaitali. I work in a library, so anything bookish is fun for me to read. I really enjoyed it! Do you have any writing quirks?

    Brooke at Brooke Blogs
    #blogelina #commentathon

    1. I’m afraid my writing process is quite tame. I tend to write on whatever devices I have at hand at the given time. However, I’ve had some lines running around in my head mostly when I’m in the shower;)

  11. I LOVE a good backstory and you have delivered some true gems! I wish I had an interesting quirk to add to the list, however I am just Plain Jane, Have Thought, Will Write. I do find late night inspiration to come as I am on my way to sleep and keep paper and pen to jot down these ideas. Almost half of these ideas are actually ledgible!

  12. Wow! These are some really interesting facts about these writers. I’m not sure if I could get any writing done with some of their methods, yet it seemed to work really well for them. Thank you for sharing these facts.

  13. I love all these Quirks! They are all very interesting! My notes are jotted down on sticky notes. I usually type at my desk and like no noise in the background. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  14. That totally explains Finnegans Wake… Lol! Remember that one from college! I don’t have any quirks other than I write better when I’m listening to instrumental music.

  15. I loved reading about these fascinating quirks! I too sometimes write while lying down, in a notebook, it’s a bit hard to type that way for an extended period of time, and then I type my notes up later πŸ™‚

  16. No way I didn’t know any of these! I think I’m going to be a horizontal writer, it seems to take less energy than writing on horseback πŸ˜‰ Great post, thank you! xxx

  17. Some of these habits are quite interesting, especially the writing on horseback! I love to write as well, but I’ve never tried any of these habits.

  18. As a writer, I found this post quite entertaining and interesting. I did not know most of these quirks of famous authors. I did go through a spell where I would write standing up…I can’t do that now. How can you write while on horseback, though? Lol. I personally do not have any writing quirks, except that I cannot type too big or too small outside of my normal font size.. or it actually makes my fingers type much slower for some reason.

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