Writing Habits of Famous Writers

catkins-bookshelf-literatureMost writers develop daily routines and adopt certain habits — some more idiosyncratic than others — to help them get their stories to paper. Here are some of the writing habits of famous writers.

Raymond Carver often wrote in his car, presumably not while driving.

Truman Capote called himself a “horizontal writer” because he needed to write lying down.

Agatha Christie often wrote while sitting in a bathtub.

Charles Dickens always faced north when he wrote. Many Victorians believed that the earth’s magnetic currents could imbue the mind with creative energy.

James Joyce, due to his poor eyesight, had to write on large pieces of cardboard using crayons, while lying on his stomach in bed.

Marcel Proust, author of Remembrance of Things Past, liked to write in bed.

Playwright Edmond Rostand often wrote in the bathtub.

Sir Walter Scott often wrote while riding horseback.

Wallace Stevens often wrote his poetry on small pieces of paper as he was taking a walk.

Mark Twain preferred writing while lying in bed.

Virginia Woolf wrote while standing up, working at a custom-built standing desk.

Read related posts: Random Fascinating Facts About Authors
Random Fascinating Facts About Authors 2
Daily Word Quotas of Famous Authors

Who Were Barnes and Noble?
Sleeping Habits of Famous Authors
How Many Words Does the Average Person Speak in a Lifetime?
First Typewritten Book

For further reading: It Takes a Certain Type to be a Writer by Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo (2003)

3 responses to “Writing Habits of Famous Writers

  • The Long Victorian

    Interesting stuff. I can imagine coming up with ideas in the bathtub (it supposedly worked for Archimedes – ‘Eureka!’) but writing in one poses certain practical problems. According to the Paris Review quite a few famous writers wrote standing up, for at least some of the time. Kierkegaard, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Vladimir Nabokov, Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway.

    • Alexander Atkins

      TLV: Thank you for your steady support of Bookshelf and your note. Yes, as I researched this post, I was surprised to see so many occasional and dedicated bathtub writers. Consider the context of the tools of writing back then: dropping a pen or a pad of paper into water is a lot more forgiving than dropping a laptop. I admire your consistently brilliant work on your site. Cheers, Alex

      • The Long Victorian

        Thanks, Alex. I much enjoy Bookshelf and it’s diverse range. I believe the early Greeks used pointed sticks on wet clay tablets – I challenge Agatha Christie to try that in the tub! 🙂

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