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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 September 20, 2018

                    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                    When you train your brain, you will:

                    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
                    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

                    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

                    1. Work your memory

                    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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                    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                    For example, say you just met someone new:

                    “Hi, my name is George”

                    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

                    Got it? Good.

                    2. Do something different repeatedly

                    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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                    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

                    But how does this apply to your life right now?

                    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                    3. Learn something new

                    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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                    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

                    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                    4. Follow a brain training program

                    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                    5. Work your body

                    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                    6. Spend time with your loved ones

                    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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                    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

                    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                    The bottom line

                    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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