Quirky writing habits of famous authors



Have you ever wondered how great authors write? You’d think they would have a routine of some kind, a favourite corner or desk, an old comfy sofa or maybe a particular dress they’d like to wear. What you don’t know probably, is how quirky they can get.

All upside down

Did you know, for instance, that Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code thought the best cure for his writer’s block was hanging upside down? He said it helped him relax. So that’s probably how he found out the Holy Grail wasn’t a chalice at all but a woman. Quite brilliant, actually. But no thank you I’m not trying this one.

Writing au naturel

Then there was Victor Hugo who wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. When he had a deadline to meet he’d ask his valet to confiscate his clothes so he couldn’t go out anywhere. When it got too cold he simply wrapped himself in a blanket. Going by the length of The Hunchback he would have remained in the buff for a long long time. Definitely not trying this one either.

Sleeping/standing authors

Mark Twain, George Orwell and Woody Allen wrote while lounging on beds and sofas. You would accuse them of being lazy had they not given us such masterpieces. On the other hand there were writers like Hemingway, Dickens and Lewis Carroll who wrote standing at their desks. Hemingway’s work desk was the top of chest-high book shelf. If you’re a Hemingway fan you must read this interview.

(On a completely different note and I know I’m digressing but I must give you this Hemingway tip: Each day he would stop writing at a point in his narrative when he knew what happened next. That way when he took up writing the next day he knew exactly how he had to begin and wouldn’t have to wait to get into the groove, so to say).

And some others..

Among the more recent Indian authors RK Narayan and Vikram Seth offer the greatest contrast:

RK Narayan says, “..between breakfast and lunch I manage five hundred words and while the rice on the stove is cooking, a couple of hundred, and after lunch once again till six.” He makes it sound like such a mundane task.

And there’s Vikram Seth who says writing should flow on its own and cannot/should not be forced. Perhaps that’s why he has such few works, but each of them outstanding.

Among the newer lot  Amish Tripathi likes to listen to music, which is not so strange but he also likes to eat a lot of cream biscuits while writing. I’d only think of the calories I was piling up, leave Ram and Sita to their own devices, and head to the gym.

And lastly I stumbled upon this Durjoy Datta tweet:
My writing process is one part writing, 10 parts YouTube, 10 parts cute dog pictures.

Make what you will of it.

So do you have a writing preference? Or can you write anytime, anywhere?

Day 2 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘What you didn’t know’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush



43 Replies to “Quirky writing habits of famous authors”

  1. Loved this Tulika 🙂 Simply coz most of us are quite a quirky lot, the wordy ones I mean….and what makes no sense to a non writer/book lover would make perfect sense and so Dan brown, Hemingway and each ones quirks brought me an understanding smile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post just goes to show each one is so different and what works for one may not for others. I would not mind trying Dan Brown’s tactic and I must confess I write on my bed the entire day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well you’re in good company then Jaibala :-). But what you say is right – there really is no fixed formula.


    1. Oh me too. Have you seen those pirated books? I could never read them – the font and the pages are so uncomfortable.


  3. Interesting to see these quirks of our favourite authors. If I will do any of these, my husband will bring me down to earth by saying, ‘Do you think you are some kind of writer?’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This made for a VERY enjoyable read Tulika 😀 Yes, I doubt I’d write in the buff or upside down either and er.. Narayan , let’s not discuss his methods or I’d die from an inferiority complex! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was super-interesting Tulika! So many quirky habits have produced such brilliant stuff….maybe one needs to consider practicing some form of eccentricity to bring out that best-seller hiding within! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure these quirks would work for me Kala. Maybe each of us needs to figure out our own.


  6. This was such a fun, interesting read, Tulika! Are great people quirky or do quirky habits make great people 😉 I’m just glad when my muse cooperates and I’m willing to write. I’m loving your takes on prompts through books. Very fresh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no clue Uma. I think they’ll just be desperate to try anything when the deadline approaches and the muse isn’t being cooperative.


  7. Those are some quirky habits. Like Mark Twain, George Orwell and Woody Allen, I prefer writing blogs on bed! How I wish that even an iota of their writing skills got rubbed on me! LOL 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually thought of you while writing the upside down bit. You’re the only one around here who can give it a shot :-).


  8. A bit like Durjoy Datta….Each time I sit to write, I go blank. So, I go for a little walk on Facebook, then watch some cute videos of dogs (of course!), then I do some more lazing around here and there on the net and then, all of a sudden an idea takes shape. And, that’s how Shilpa Gupte writes! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many distractions, isn’t it? Sometimes I think if I would;t do so many things together I’d get lots of work done.


  9. Those were some quirky habits for sure! And you found the perfect topic to write for today’s prompt! Upside down?! I doubt I’ll ever do that… Youtube videos, I already do that 😛


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes oh yes do that. And I’ll read it somewhere and say “Yeah, really. I used to know him. He actually did that!”


  10. That’s interesting info! I for once love writing when I can lie down on my bed, punching short notes on my cellphone. It’s not about laziness but more about loosening up and relaxing while I write.


  11. I’ve read about these authors, Tulika. So much fun. I have even seen a nice infographic about this. Love your post! Terrific for the prompt! I am waiting to see what you do with the little shoes 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t remind me Vidya, for now I’m just praying. Ah yes being the anywhere, anytime type of a writer gets much writing done.


    1. I thought that was brilliant and it’s something I never do. I write as long as the rush of ideas is coming because I’m scared I’ll break the chain of thought next day.


  12. I recently read about the quirky habits of a different set of authors online & was planning to write about it for Day 1. How weird is this! Nice take on the prompt and I don’t think I can manage any of these quirky habits to help me write. 😀 Quirky or not, I definitely need a silent home and an inspiring thought to write about. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s that thing about great minds thinking alike, right EM? :-). I need the quiet too.


  13. Exactly..that is what I would worry about if I had to eat cream biscuits to get into the groove. And though some of these other quirks come off as extreme measures, I guess they did what they had to, and the literary world is ever grateful for their contributions. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha.. I thought that made sense – to look for a different perspective you alter yours literally.


Like it? Love it? Hate it? Say something.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: