Famous writers’ idiosyncracies

Spending a lifetime writing can make for some interesting eccentricities. Here are a few from well-known authors.

Corporate communicators can be an eccentric bunch.

Whether it’s because we write for a living or because we write for a living in a corporate environment, we all have idiosyncrasies—and may develop more as we continue to pen phrases.

We balance the sometimes-unreasonable demands of clients and executives with the need to craft messages that are clear and concise.

We argue with others about which lazy corporate verbs should be banned from our writing.

We correct the grammar in the books that we read out loud to our kids.

Throughout my career in corporate communications, I have cultivated many writing eccentricities—more than I care to count. I find in comfort that many famous writers were also quite unconventional in their writing habits and rituals.

Here are a few examples, taken from “Odd Type Writers: From Joyce and Dickens to Wharton and Welty, the Obsessive Habits and Quirky Techniques of Great Authors” by Celia Blue Johnson:

Victor Hugo would remove all his clothes and give them to his servant. His servant was then instructed not to return the clothes until Hugo had completed his writing for the day.

Truman Capote would not start or finish a piece of work on a Friday.

Jack London wrote 1,000 words every day of his career.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 3,000 words per day.

Anthony Trollope would begin writing at 5:30 a.m. and would write 250 words every 15 minutes. He would time himself with his watch.

Jane Austen made sure the hinges on the door were not oiled in the room where she wrote, so she would have warning when someone entered the room.

Edith Wharton wrote by cutting and pasting scraps of paper together.

When he was writing “Fahrenheit 451,” Ray Bradbury went to a basement typing room at UCLA, inserted 10 cents into the typewriter and bought 30 minutes of typing time.

Sir Walter Scott wrote most of “Marmion” in his head while riding a horse.

Edgar Allen Poe often wrote with his cat in his lap or perched on his right shoulder.

Alexandre Dumas wrote his fiction on blue paper, his poetry on yellow paper and his articles on pink paper.

Charles Dickens preferred to write in blue ink because it dried faster.

How about you, Ragan readers? What are your writing eccentricities?

A regular contributor to Ragan and PR Daily, Laura Hale Brockway is medical writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.

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