Thursday, June 13, 2013

Writing 101: A Little Weirdness Inspires Greatness

If you've got strange writing habits, don't worry. Many great authors did lots of weird things while they were writing. Maybe one day, your weird habits will become the stuff of literary legend. 

Getting Weird to Write

Do you have any of the strange habits of brilliant authors who have come before you? If you write lying down, you've got something in common with Truman Capote. The Breakfast at Tiffany's author said he had to write horizontally. He wrote in longhand, and began every morning sipping coffee as he wrote. By the time evening rolled around, he'd moved to martinis. 

T.S. Eliot wanted to be called "Captain Eliot" while he wrote in a room above a publishing house in the 1920s. He had another writing hideaway in the city where he was known as "The Captain." According to legend, he wore green powder on his face to look "cadaverous" while he wrote.

Dan Brown, who penned the Da Vinci Code, wakes daily at 4 am. He writes for 60 minutes at a time before getting up to exercise. Victor Hugo did something even stranger to write Les Miserables. To keep himself from procrastinating, he ordered his valet to take away all his clothes. This left him stuck in the house, with nothing to do but sit around and write naked.

Some authors need weird rituals and odd habits to keep those creative juices flowing. Ernest Hemingway, Virgina Woolf and several other authors famously wrote their works standing up. Hunter S. Thompson could only write after midnight, and a very full evening of substance sampling. Maya Angelou checks into a hotel room where she tells the staff to remove stimulating colors and artwork. Then, she writes a certain amount each day and edits the pages later. 

So anything you're doing while you write can't be that weird. Maybe it takes a little weirdness to find one's writing greatness. Next time you get stuck, try laying down or standing up. Maybe it'll help you create something you never expected.

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  1. Ha, I actually just blogged the other day about some of the strange rituals I've had before getting ready to write (check out if you'd like). I try not to do it so much nowadays because if you get too used to a ritual, then you might not be able to write without doing it.

  2. Good point, Sarah! Sometimes following a ritual can be a bad thing. Thanks for the link, too.

  3. That's where I'm going wrong! I need some bizarre rituals :-)

  4. Oh, this made me laugh out loud. I love the info on Victor Hugo - now I just need a valet. I don't think you'll mind, but I thought I'd let you know I've put a link to your Blog on mine. Your advice is so good I just have to share it.

  5. Isn't that something? I can only imagine what the valet was thinking, and how many other odd things he did over the years. Thanks for linking to me!