Most writers have a quirk or two or three. We even share a few. I’ll admit I’m no exception.
Some of these idiosyncrasies we’d have whether or not we were writers, while others are strictly related to writing.
Regardless of the type of quirks, they might be dictating how, when and where we write. And that can be a problem.
I researched a few common writing quirks/habits that authors have confessed to. Most of these are just funny and don’t have a huge impact on the how, when and where of writing.
- Writing in your underwear
- Writing in your husband’s too-big jammies
- Drinking wine while writing a love scene
- Writing a book in longhand or using an old typewriter
- Writing “only” in a particular place – office, bed, favorite recliner, bed, café, library etc.
- Seeking a different place to write for each new book depending on its atmosphere
- Writing only at a particular time of day or night – example: graveyard writers
- Munchies on your desk to help feed creativity. M&Ms and nuts are common favorites.
- Exercising before writing to start the blood flow to the noggin
- Must have mood music
- Must have total uninterrupted silence
I confess I’m guilty of a few of the above. I prefer uninterrupted silence, frequently enjoy desk munchies, and I used to be a graveyard writer. None of these quirks interfere with my writing, but my old graveyard writing habit does haunt my current daytime writing. I miss it.
Graveyard writing or writing only in the wee hours of the morning has unarguable advantages for writing moms and people who work. And because of these advantages, it’s addictive.
It’s peaceful – no phone calls, no little crumb crunchers flying through the door with skinned knees, no demanding bosses.
Perhaps because I “know” there will be no interruptions, my creative juices run freer. I don’t tire easily during midnight sprints because my mind is off and running on a creative adrenalin high.
My children are grown now, and I write during the day to accommodate my husbands schedule and my evolving lifestyle.
Daytime writing is full of interruptions. I compensated for some of the interruptions but . . . I had a big quirk that I couldn’t ignore.
My slate had to be clean before I could ignore the world around me and just write.
But wait! It gets worse!
I started out small as an unapologetic neat freak. To me, a messy house represents “chaos” and just knowing a mess lurked outside my office interfered with my ability to focus on writing.
Graveyard writing was guilt free. After all, running a vacuum at 1:00 am would wake up my family. Ignoring a messy house was easy.
But during the daytime hours . . . Well, I lost a lot of writing time to my neat freak quirk, especially when the darn thing morphed into Godzilla!
The monster chomped away at my writing time like it was prime rib.
- Bills waiting to be paid = chaos
- Errands to run = chaos
- People who need my particular help = chaos
- Home repairs needing attention = chaos
- Hubby calling to tell me to call someone for him = chaos
Yeah, I know — silly. Some might accuse me of being obsessive compulsive? I’m not. Okay, maybe a smidgeon. I still can’t sleep if there’s even a dot of light invading my bedroom.
I love writing and my own quirk was driving me nuts. I knew there had to be a balance but “allowing” myself to find it wasn’t easy – still isn’t.
Fortunately, my love of writing booted me in the rear.
I was lucky enough to afford a housekeeper and that helped a lot. While she cleaned house, I paid bills and ran errands. When help wasn’t available, I’d do heavy duty cleaning one week and only a touched up the following week. That satisfied my neat freak and gave me lots more time to write.
Okay, I have to be honest. Sometimes I still struggled with my neat freak. That’s the nature of quirks. They don’t give up easily.
That’s when I remind myself that “life is short” and no one really gives a hoot if my house is messy but me. As it is with many lessons, I learned this one the hard way.
Almost two years ago, cancer cut my 33 year-old son’s life short. I miss the life I no longer have with him. Soon after that, I faced my own health issues and mortality. There’s nothing like a scary slap of reality to put things into proper perspective.
I’m back on my feet now, and I’m writing again.
Do I still have my same old quirks? Yeah, and they still make me itch once in a while. But I don’t allow them to distract me from what’s important. Life is way too short!
While I can’t always advise my fellow writers on how to overcome their own quirks and other obstacles in their writing lives, I can say this, enjoy family and friends and if writing is your true passion than write your heart out. The rest will take care of itself.
Here’s some fun links below and please do share some of your own quirks. Laughing feeds the creative soul and sharing lifts burdens.
- From Flavor Wire here’s a great article: Weird Writing Habits of Famous Writers
- From Graveyard Writers: Writers and Their Quirks
- From Lena Sledges Blog: Writing Habits of 21 Famous Writers
- Opposite Habits of Famous Writers