Consider Some Pros’ Habits
It’s a known fact the Ernest Hemingway wrote standing at a lectern. He frequently wrote in pencil and would usually begin his writing with the ritual of sharpening at least a dozen pencils. Hemingway would shift from foot to foot, and when the writing really began to flow, only then would he sit at his desk to continue.
And Truman Copote described himself as “a completely horizontal writer” and could not think unless he was lying in bed or stretched out on a couch or in a hammock.
Dame Agatha Christie tells us that she plotted her stories early in the morning while sitting in a bathtub of warm water, eating apples. John Nichols, who wrote The Milagro Beanfield War, also found soaking in a tub of warm water conducive for getting ideas flowing. I’m not sure what he munched on at 4:00 a.m. Others who gained inspiration while soaking in a bathtub were Benjamin Franklin, who actually owned the first bathtub in America; the French playwright Edmond Rostand and Vladimir Nabokov both claimed that soaking in a bathtub was conducive to their creativity. A writer friend told me that she needs a grease pencil in the shower. Must be something about warm water that generates the flow of ideas!
Kitchen tables were also a favorite for a number of authors. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote most of Uncle Tom’s Cabin on one. She managed to squeeze in writing between cooking, sewing, cleaning, and caring for her seven children. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte also used the family’s kitchen table to function as a writing desk. Jane Austen worked at a small round parlor table with hardly enough room for her notebook. In fact, she was so shy that at the slightest sound of someone approaching, quickly hid whatever she was writing.
Then there’s William Faulkner who maintained he wrote only when it rained. One wonders how the course of American literature would have changed if Faulkner set YoknapatawphaCounty in Arizona instead of Mississippi.
Tennessee Williams worked seven days a week. He did not think writing on Sundays was a violation of the Sabbath although he did make one exception – Easter Sunday. Issac Asimov also wrote every day from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and completed 500 books during his career. Barbara Cartland, who also produced over 500 novels, was still writing and being published when she was in her late nineties. And Mark Twain never wrote another word after the death of his beloved wife Livy.