Unusual Writing Habits Of Famous Authors

April 24th, 2017

Written by Katy Winship

Writing habits

Now we're not advocating drinking at work here but alcohol does seem to have been a popular choice for many authors of the literary classics. Check out our list of other, often unexpected, unusual habits of great authors and be inspired to write this National Stationery week.


Author Ernest Hemingway is famous for the quote "Write drunk, edit sober." Hemingway isn't the only author know to drink and ink:

Dorothy Parker - "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

Hunter S. Thompson - "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

Oscar Wilde -"Drink is the curse of the writing classes."

Maya Angelou -"I might have it at six-fifteen a.m. just as soon as I get in, but usually it's about eleven o'clock when I'll have a glass of sherry."


Poet Friedrich Schiller kept a drawer full of rotting apples because he thought that the smell inspired him to write.

Agatha Christie composed some of her greatest murder stories whilst eating apples in the bath!

Carry a notepad

Will Self - "Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever."

Create your own space

Roald Dahl had his shed in the garden where he created his masterpieces. His daughter Ophelia Dahl says "We always knocked before we went in, because it felt like you were interrupting some deep sense of concentration. Inside, it had a very mercurial atmosphere, the sense of an inventing room or a laboratory".

Get naked

Victor Hugo, author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, famously had his servant take all of his clothes away for the day in order to cure his writing block - this meant he only had himself and a pen and paper and would have nothing else to do but write...!

Go non-linear

Controversial author of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, wrote his work on index cards and kept them together in little boxes. He found that this way he could write the scenes that he wanted in a non-linear fashion and then re-organise them in the most effective way.

Lie down

Mark Twain, George Orwell and Woody Allen wrote some of their most read pages while lying down in bed or on a sofa.


William Faulkner - "Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window."

Rent a hotel room

Maya Angelou, the poet, author and civil rights activist used to rent a hotel room to write her memoirs. She'd treat it like an office and 'go to work'; "I rent a hotel room for a few months, leave my home at six, and try to be at work by six-thirty." Her schedule was quite strict as she would usually leave around 1pm and then re-visit the work later in the evening. She also used the hotel bed as her desk.

Stand up

Conversely, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway and Lewis Carroll all were known to produce some of their finest works at their standing desks.


If you're inspired why not take on board some of these habits, perhaps consider investing in a standing desk or some handy-sized notepads! Call one of our friendly advisers today on 08444 123 170.