Habits of Great Writers

Sara Jonsson sketches the habits of some well-known writers, and the habits can be bizarre:

Here are a few in her list… Dickens walked miles and miles pondering his plots and characters.

What are their methods? What kind of writing habits made it possible for these geniuses to churn out the good stuff? Here are some sneaky writing secrets from famous authors. Maybe one of them will work for you.

Maya Angelou: Ms. Angelou would leave her apartment in the morning around 7 a.m., go to a tiny, bare hotel room, and write until 2 p.m. The only things she brought with her were a Bible, a deck of cards, and a bottle of sherry….

Joan Didion: When nearing the end of a book, Didion prefers to sleep with it in the room, saying she feels the book won’t “leave” her if she’s asleep right next to it.

Ernest Hemingway: Hemingway would always stop his day of writing right when he came to a place where he knew exactly what came next in his story. That way he started off the next day fresh, fast, and without writer’s block. He also wrote standing, in a pair of oversized loafers, his typewriter at chest height….

Dan Brown: Brown likes to hang upside down in antigravity boots, saying the inversion therapy helps him relax and “let go.” He also keeps an hourglass on his desk, and every hour he stops writing to do pushups, sit-ups, and stretches.

Jack Kerouac: Once Kerouac had a ritual of writing by the light of a candle, and blowing it out when he was done for the night. Later in life, he would kneel and pray to Jesus to preserve his mind before writing, since he was “pretty sure” it was going.

What’s  your weirdest writing ritual?

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  • Without considering myself nearly among these, I do notice that I write best after I have walked around with an idea and talked about it out loud to myself.

    Almost always talk to myself and then write it down – that’s why I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking – life saver.

  • josenmiami

    i just wake up, get my first cup of coffee and start writing. After about an hour, I check facebook and twitter, and then go back to writing until my third cup of coffee is gone, then I go for a walk. I had no idea that I was so boring!

  • metanoia

    I’m a night writer. My mind clears up around 11 PM and I usually write till about 1:30 – 2 AM. Juices don’t seem to flow during the day.