Strange Writing Habits of 10 Famous Authors

hemingway-desk-600x906Do you have a writing ritual? I do. I write every day from eight until noon, and I must have coffee—not just any old coffee, but hot lattes in cold months and iced coffee in summer. I guess my writing habits are conventional when compared to these famous authors:

Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea) got up at dawn every morning and wrote standing up until he emptied his head. After all that thinking, he needed to drink and hang out with his six-toed cat, Snow White.

Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Cold Blood) said he couldn’t think straight unless he was lying down drinking coffee. When morning shifted to afternoon, Capote set aside the coffee and sipped mint tea. Later in the afternoon, he switched to sherry and then martinis.

Honoré de Balzac  (Cromwell, La Comédie Humaine) enjoyed marathon writing sessions aided by many cups of black coffee—an average of 50 cups a day! While on a coffee high, he wrote for 48 hours straight.

Victor Hugo (Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), when faced with a deadline, practiced the odd habit of writing in the nude to assure that he wouldn’t leave the house. He locked away his clothes and wore only a large, gray shawl.


Edith Wharton re-imagined by Annie Leibovitz in the pages of Vogue.

Edith Wharton (Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence) had a queenly way of writing. She wrote in bed, surrounded by her little dogs. After she wrote on a sheet of paper, she dropped it on the floor, and servants picked up and organized the sheets.

Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring) followed 11 rules that he set for himself.

Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo)  color-coded his writing: blue for his fiction novels, pink for non-fiction or articles and yellow for poetry.

Neil Simon (Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple) has a habit of rewarding himself for completing a difficult scene with a bag of Fritos.

Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) acts out his screenplay dialogues in front of the mirror. He once became so intense while acting that he accidentally head-butted the mirror and broke his nose!

and, finally


Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code, Inferno) likes to hang upside down in antigravity boots. Inversion therapy, he says, helps him to relax and let go. When writing, Brown uses an hourglass to track time. Every hour he stops writing and does a few pushups, sit-ups and stretches.


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