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TwainOur thanks to for this clever infographic. Read on to discover some fun and quirky work habits of great writers. Then, tell us yours!

Have you ever wondered how Ernest Hemingway wrote his masterpieces? When we read and reread a book we admire, we get inspired from all aspects of the story, but rarely think about the way it was written and the effort that went into it.

What’s the first picture you imagine when you think about the way Mark Twain wrote the books we can’t stop reading? A messy room with pieces of paper scattered all around and Twain conceptualizing the stories in front of the typewriter? Well, you would be surprised to find out that the scene in your head isn’t right.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vladimir Nabokov, Edgar Allan Poe and many other genius writers had rather peculiar writing habits that challenge our imagination. Maybe you’ll appreciate J. D. Salinger’s brutal honesty even more when you find out that he wrote naked? Did you think that Stephen King’s suspense was produced in a usual writer’s setting? You won’t find many contemporary writers using the commonly-accepted tech tools. They still rely on traditional methods, but you wouldn’t characterize their approach as traditional.

Maybe the strategies of the great writers throughout history seem bizarre to us commoners, but one thing is for sure: geniuses don’t think and act within the commonly-accepted social patterns. So tell us, writers, do you have any quirky writing habits?Unusual work habits of great writers

10 thoughts on “Unusual Work Habits of Great Writers

  • October 15, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Shari, This is a GREAT article! The fact there are photos of these famous writers in their ‘state’ of writing is
    pretty cool. Nice work.

  • October 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Glancing through the responses I count myself lucky. The only distraction I have is a cat who seems to think he needs to help. Therefore he has his spot between the monitor and the keyboard. I actually have two different ways of doing things. This sounds really odd, but I find I am more creative in the evenings and better at editing in the mornings. I know, don’t make sense to me either. But, on that note I do my freestyle writing at home in the evenings and my editing on the way to work in the morning. Since I commute by train it makes my time productive. Than once I am back home I submit the changes back on the ole computer. You would be amazed how many conversations I get into when people see me working on the train. Marketing, and editing. Multitasking at its best.

  • October 13, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    …and the winner is…………..JD Salinger!

  • October 13, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    HI Shari,

    It’s interesting that the examples of unusual work habits are men, but so far all the comments are from women. Does that mean that great women writers didn’t have unusual work habits? I doubt it. I fear that many great women writers are seen as geniuses on the same level as the men cited here.

    I wish I could write on a plane ride because I could get a lot done in that unique environment especially on international trips. For whatever reason I can only manage concentration for crossword puzzles or movies in those cases.

    My favorite places to get the most writing done are bookstores or libraries surrounded by books. If it’s a bookstore that serves coffee, I’m in heaven.

  • October 12, 2014 at 8:37 am

    When I run short of ideas I quit the screen and go to my old ways. I put my left elbow on the desk, hold my forearm upright and rest my head on my left hand. Tilting my head opens up new avenues of thought which I write down with my right hand. I can’t explain why it works but it does.

    • October 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

      That’s fascinating, Mary! A good lesson too — the change of perspective, no matter how slight, may be just the ticket 🙂

  • October 11, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Cool pictures and info!
    Shari, that is SO cool! I wrote almost all my short stories on trains and planes going to and from scientific meetings back in the late ’70s and ’80s. With two small children and a husband at home, and a job that consumed ten to twelve hours a day, that was the only down time I had. It was wonderful to be able to be alone and quietly creative.

    • October 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      It IS quietly creative, isn’t it?! Think that’s why folks write in coffee shops — even though there’s others around, there’s an anonymity to it – they’re not talking to YOU 🙂 Write on, good lady…

  • October 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    How encouraging! Of course, I’ve a long way to go to be a genius, (maybe in my next incarnation). But I find it fascinating that these are MALE geniuses (genii?). WHAT? Are women too busy tending the next generation of genius babies, while mopping up after the current crop? Come on Lady Geniuses, Confess how you mess up.

    • October 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Ha! True enough Helen… I find I get my most productive work done — believe it or not — on airplanes! I know no one; no one bothers me (or can find me by phone), I’m glued to the chair, and someone brings me food or drink if I need it 🙂 I’ve read of these cross-country train trips for writers with great interest, too… could be my next trip!

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