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9 Weird Habits That Famous Writers Formed to Write Better

9 Weird Habits That Famous Writers Formed to Write Better

Every writer is in constant search of a solid strategy for their personal daily battle with the blank page. This doesn’t only happen to newbies, it even happens to the literary icons we adore. Excellent wordsmiths have to wait for their best and motivated self before they can produce deep and thought-provoking novels and stories. Along with their drive to work in the ways that best suit them, famous writers’ own strange writing rituals also bring meaning to their creations.

Aside from innate skills and intelligence, the greatest geniuses share their potential with the world by possessing remarkable eagerness and a strong passion towards their craft. But believe it or not, most famous writers have also adopted bizarre habits in an attempt to scribble their words down on paper. Many successful authors were able to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack because of these quirky secrets. Take a look at some of the routines of these eccentrics that may help you simplify your own writing process.

1. Lying down

Twain_writing_in_bed_jpg_600x458_q85
    Mark Twain writing in bed.

    For some authors, lying down seems to set their creativity and focus in writing. They find inspiration and the right words to write while they are in the comfort of their bed. Among the successful novelists who have practiced this habit are Mark Twain, George Orwell, Edith Wharton, Woody Allen and Marcel Proust. They were all known for churning out pages while lying in bed or lounged on a sofa. American author and playwright Truman Capote even claimed to be a “completely horizontal author” because he couldn’t think and write unless he was lying down.

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    2. Standing up

    Hemingwaywriting1
      Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up.

      In contrast to point 1, writing vertically is also not peculiar for famous writers of critically acclaimed novels and motivational speeches: writers like Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, and Philip Roth. These great thinkers have been inspired to pen their finest pieces at their standing desk. For health-conscious writers, this technique might work for you because standing desks offer many proven benefits.

      3. Writing with index cards

      vladimir-nabokov-writing-draft-on-index-cards
        Vladimir Nabokov writing a draft on index cards.

        Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada, was very particular about his writing instruments. He composed all his works on index cards, which he kept in slim boxes. This odd method enabled him to write scenes non-sequentially and re-order the cards any time he wanted.

        Nabokov also stored some of his lined Bristol cards underneath his pillow. This way, if an idea popped into his head, he could quickly write it down. You can use index cards when doing your note-taking or plotting too. It’s a different way to construct your story that can knock fun things loose.

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        4. Using a color-coded system

        Alexandre-Dumas2
          Alexandre Dumas

          French author Alexandre Dumas wrote his historical adventure novels like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo using a color-coded system of writing. It may be hard to imagine, but this genius was actually very specific on the palettes of colors for his works. Interesting, right? For decades, Dumas used various colors to indicate his type of writing. Blue was the color for his fiction novels, pink for non-fiction or articles and yellow for poetry. Why not try applying different colors to your content creation and see if it can help you express yourself in print.

          5. Hanging upside down

          Dan Brown
            Dan Brown

            Hanging upside down is the cure for writer’s block; at least, this is what the renowned bestselling author Dan Brown believes. According to Brown, when he does so-called inversion therapy, it helps him relax and concentrate better on his writing. The more he does it, the more he feels relieved and inspired to write.

            Another unusual habit of the Da Vinci Code writer is having an hourglass on his desk. Every hour he sets aside his manuscript to do some push-ups, sit-ups and stretches. Imitating such weird tactics doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all. If it helps you to write, why not give it a try, right? At the very least, you’ll stay fit!

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            6. Facing a wall

            Francine_Prose
              Francine Prose

              Francine Prose, the author of Blue Angel, believes that writing while facing a wall is the perfect metaphor for being a writer. When working in a strange apartment, Prose’s solution for limiting distraction was moving her desk to face the window and looking out on a high brick wall. She found this view monotonous but it helped her to sit and write for long stretches of time.

              7. Acting out dialogues

              Aaron-Sorkin
                Aaron Sorkin

                The award-winning screenwriter behind The West Wing and The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin, confessed that he broke his nose while writing. How did it happen? Well, he likes to act out his stories’ dialogues in front of the mirror, and once, after getting carried away, he accidentally head butted it. Acting out your story dialogues is good, but make sure that you don’t step over the line and get yourself hurt when you’re structuring your story.

                8. Writing without clothes

                Victor Hugo
                  Victor Hugo

                  To complete your writing before a deadline, you may possibly consider Victor Hugo’s weird habit — writing without clothes. When he was facing a tight schedule for his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, he instructed his valet to confiscate all his clothes so he wouldn’t able to leave the house. Even during the coldest days, Hugo only wrapped himself in a blanket while he penned his story.

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                  9. Drinking massive amounts of coffee

                  Honore de Balzac.jpg
                    Honore de Balzac

                    French novelist Honoré de Balzac fueled his creative writing by consuming around 50 cups of coffee a day. Yes, that’s the amount of coffee he drank every day just to find inspiration for his written works. Some studies say that Balzac barely slept when he wrote his magnum opus, La Comedie Humaine. Besides de Balzac, another coffee-addicted author was Voltaire. He was known for drinking up to 40 cups of coffee a day.

                    Featured photo credit: the author/streetwrk.com via flickr.com

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                    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                    3. Create a System

                    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                    5. Use a Ratings Scale

                    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                    7. Offer Feedback Forms

                    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                    9. Use Self-Evaluations

                    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                    10. Monitor Time Management

                    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                      14. Use an External Evaluator

                      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                      Final Thoughts

                      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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