Alex Patriquin

Marginalia & found poetry. Short fiction and other projects. Musings  on startups. Photos from NYC and travels.

What are some unusual work habits of famous writers?

Truman Capote wrote lying down, as did Marcel Proust, Mark Twain and Woody Allen.

Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Roth, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Fernando Pessoa and George Sand all wrote standing up.

Roth also “walks half a mile for every page”.

Roald Dahl wrote in a shed. 

Philip Pullman used to write in a shed, but eventually gave it to an illustrator friend.

Umberto Eco has a converted church as his scriptorium. One floor has a computer, one has a typewriter, one in which he writes long-hand.

Haruki Murakami commutes into a city apartment in Tokyo where he writes.

After the publication of Joe Gould’s Secret, Joseph Mitchell came to the office at the The New Yorker magazine almost every day for the next thirty-two years without filing another word.

Dashiell Hammett published nothing after he was 39 - he felt he was repeating himself but never managed to find a new style he felt was good enough.

Ray Bradbury wrote an early version on Fahrenheit 451 in nine days on a rented typewriter in the UCLA library basement.

Will Self uses a wall of Post-It notes to plan and structure his writing.

Elmore Leonard writes on yellow legal pads.

Michel Faber corrected the first manuscript of The Crimson Petal and the White with house paint because he couldn’t afford Tipp-Ex.

Gustav Hasford was a serial hoarder of very overdue library books, and had 10,000 of them in storage lockers.

Don DeLillo types each paragraph onto its own sheet of paper, so that he might concentrate better.

Gay Talese would pin pages of his writing to a wall and examine them from the other side of the room with binoculars.

Jonathan Safran Foer has a collection of blank sheets of paper. 

Cormac McCarthy said that his perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper.

Ethan Canin copied John Cheever paragraphs out to learn what made the man’s writing tick.

Anthony Trollope required of himself two hundred and fifty words every quarter of an hour. 

J.G. Ballard, a fan of discipline in writing, prepared very long outlines, and aimed for 1,000 words a day. 

Walter Benjamin advocated delaying writing an idea as long as possible, so that it would be more maturely developed.

Richard Ford and his wife shot a book by Alice Hoffman, after she had given his book Independence Day an unfavourable review.

What are some unusual work habits of famous writers? on Quora