Look, I’m about to let you in on a little secret. Great writing isn’t achieved through practice or time or Master’s degrees or the study of craft or the possession of raw talent. Nope. Great writing is about having a great writing routine – that one weird trick that’s going to put you in the perfect mindset to write the perfect sentence. All you have to do is have one special thing that gets you to that space, that great writing space. Every famous writer has their trick. Unfortunately, one person’s trick might not work for anyone else. But then again, it might. So, here are a few you can try. Below is a list of writing habits of nine successful authors who also happen to be long dead and therefore, conveniently, unable to comment on the veracity of these claims.
William Faulkner – Shoe Hands
Faulkner preferred to type with his toes instead of his fingers. He kept his shoes on his hands while he worked.
George Orwell – Swimming the English Channel
Prior to writing, Orwell would swim across the English Channel, have a croissant and a coffee on the French side, then swim back. He did this almost every day of his adult life. Except during the war years. Because it was too dangerous then.
Ernest Hemingway – Talking to Cats
It is widely known that Hemingway, following years of work in his basement genetics lab, invented a new kind of cat, one with six toes. This is more toes than a regular cat has, in case you are unaware. Before he sat down to write, Hemingway would go over his writing goals for the day with these cats. He refused to share such things with other, normal toed cats, which he considered to be poor listeners.
Franz Kafka – Too Much Cake
Kafka really loved pineapple upside down cake. And so anytime he finished a story, he allowed himself to eat a whole pineapple upside down cake all by himself without sharing any with anyone else, not even a bite.
The Bronte Sisters – A Hearty Workout
Every morning, all the Brontes (how many of them were there? Three? Six? Nine? Who even knows?) would get together for four hours of vigorous step aerobics.
Mary Shelley – Pet Snake
Shelley kept a domesticated 23-foot-long boa constrictor in her writing studio. She would wrap the snake around her shoulders while she wrote. When the snake grew restless and began to squeeze, she allowed herself to stop writing for the day.
Ezra Pound – Deliberate Mouth Breathing
Normally, Pound preferred to breathe through his nose. But when writing, he would breathe exclusively through his mouth.
Virginia Woolf – Bikram Yoga
Although, back in Woolf’s day, it was just called “stretching in a really hot room.”
Rudyard Kipling – Perfecting the Look
Kipling did not actually do any writing, but instead delegated the task to a team of ghostwriters. Kipling himself spent his days sitting on his front porch smoking clove cigarettes because he felt they made him look artsy.