Strange Habits of Famous Writers

Creative people are often referred to as being strange. Indeed, the way such people approach trivial tasks, their outlooks, manners, and values can be slightly or even significantly different from the rest of their given society. At the same time, such individuals are capable of creating something that is out of many people’s competence: visual arts, music, literature, and so on. In particular, many famous writers were known to be eccentric; they developed peculiar habits and rituals – often for the sake of creative productivity or inspiration – that their contemporaries often could not accept as normal.

For example, Jack Kerouac was known not just to lead a somewhat unhealthy and marginal lifestyle, but also for his fancy manner of writing; there were no computers in his days, and everything was typed on a typewriter. It implied, in particular, the manual “reloading” of a typewriter: when an author finished a page, he or she had to pull it out and insert a new one. Kerouac hated this limitation; in order to avoid it, he wrote on long scroll-like sheets that would extend seemingly infinitely. When he was working on his famous novel “On The Road,” he typed all of it this way; Kerouac’s prose often flows like water, his pace of writing was rapid, so in order to maintain it, using this type of paper was fine. He had, however, complications with his editor Robert Giroux because of this technique (

Some famous writers preferred to write while lying down. Writing this way (like Woody Allen, George Orwell, Mark Twain, or Truman Capote) can be considered peculiar to some extent, but compared to Victor Hugo’s habit, it is mundane. How about writing while being naked? When Victor Hugo was working on his famous “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” he felt he was unable to waste his time and go outside, so he asked his relatives to take away all his clothes. This way he could stay in his cabinet and write. Even when the days were cold, he would work on the novel while being wrapped just in a blanket (

William Faulkner, one of the most famous American writers, was known to have severe problems with alcohol; he consumed large portions of it while writing. This habit of his started after meeting Sherwood Anderson in New Orleans. Faulkner himself explained his habit (or addiction) in the following way: “We’d meet in the evenings, and we’d go to a drinking place and we’d sit around ’till one or two o’clock drinking, and still me listening and him talking. Then in the morning he would be in seclusion working, and the next time I’d see him, the same thing, we would spend the afternoon and evening together, the next morning he’d be working. And I thought then, if that was the life it took to be a writer, that was the life for me” (

As it can be seen, famous writers often had habits that did not quite fit into societal norms. Jack Kerouac neglected the requirements of his editors in favor of his comfort: to manage his own fast pace of writing, he would tape paper sheets together in the form of a scroll, so that he did not have to reload his typewriter all the time. Victor Hugo would ask his relatives to take away all of his clothes – this way he had no opportunity to go outside, and thus had to stay at home working on his novels. William Faulkner drank a lot of whiskey when he was writing, so it is hard to distinguish whether it was an addiction or a routine. Such behaviors are different from the way people usually behave, so it can be said that these are ways that only creative people tend to behave.


“The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers.” Brain Pickings. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.

“9 Weird Habits That Famous Writers Formed to Write Better.” Lifehack. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.

“Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors.” Flavorwire. N.p., 25 Dec. 2011. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.


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