A recent article on Medium.com highlights some of the quirks of the world’s greatest writers. The article gives us a quick look at some notable, if odd, characteristics of several authors that have made huge contributions to American Literature. Not all of the routines are as odd as Gertrude Stein’s requirement to have “cows and rocks in her field of vision” while she wrote, but they are all interesting. This article gives a unique perspective into the creative process, more specifically the physical environments or surroundings that these famous authors chose to create some of their most famous works. You can read the article here:
This was written by the creators of Writing Routines.com, which I found to contain a wealth of information and original perspectives on writing. The article on Strange Habits specifically features some of the more extraordinary or unusual routines of authors, but Writing Routines.com typically features advice, recommendations, and suggestions from contemporary writers that is intended to help aspiring authors create a routine of their own. They discuss the importance of establishing a writing routine, and feature articles from Kazuo Ishiguro, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Ryan Holiday, and many other best-selling authors. I found the site very helpful and insightful. There are hundreds of ideas that you can use as inspiration or guidance in establishing or changing your routine.
While I am still working on establishing my own personal writing routine, here is one point of advice that I have personally found to be useful:
Do not write after midnight.
I found myself staying up until two or three in the morning on occasion writing frantically with a feeling that my creative abilities were suddenly awakened. There was a feeling like adrenaline that would run through me as I wrote as many words as possible before finally retiring exhausted and wondering how I could possibly wake up to go to my job early the next morning. As soon as I had a chance I would read the stories that had been so exciting the night before… and they are typically unintelligible, rambling ideas that don’t contain any actual plot or specific ideas. I found that too often, my exhausted mind would either create ideas and concepts that made no sense at all, or I would revert to cliche characters and plot lines not realizing that I was essentially re-creating stories that I had heard before.
Now, instead of writing during that time after midnight before I drift off to sleep, I simply jot down one or two sentences about whatever comes to my mind. In the morning I will take a look at the list of ideas and select any that still seem interesting or actionable to my now refreshed mind! Sometimes I am surprised by the brilliance of the notes I find on my list, other times I laugh at the strange or bizarre things that I find there. I find notes like “Ravens are actually real!”, or “If we start in the mountain, we end in the valley.” On one occasion, there was a note that was just a series of numbers… and I could not remember what significance they had or why I had written them down.
It was probably an old locker combination or PIN number that was floating around in the far reaches of my consciousness. Ha!
What tips do you have for establishing a writing routine?
Have you heard of any other strange habits from your favorite authors?