Do Writing Quirks Distract Your Writing?


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.


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12 Responses to Do Writing Quirks Distract Your Writing?

  1. I’m with Alanna! I can SO relate. Virginia Woolf recommended women writers to kill our Angels of the House–our neat freaks. Oh, but that angel is a lot tougher than she looks. Plus, I have a weird relationship with my Dyson. I’m in love with it a little. I just cleaned out it’s filters, and my son caught me talking to it like it was my baby. Oh, but it does such a good job of cleaning for me! I don’t have cobwebs because of it. I sound insane, don’t I?

    Anyway, yes, I have quite a few quirks myself. Hee-hee! Great post!

    • sharla says:

      LOL In love with your Dyson hey? I can relate. We just moved and I bought a new shark steamer for bare floors. Love the darn thing. I’m thinking of a Dyson vacuum now though because my current vac weights a ton and I have way too many stairs. Alas, I’m trying to be good. I’ll call the housekeeper and see if she likes them. 🙂

  2. I’m a graveyard writer, too, although the kids are grown and gone. But the peace and quiet in the middle of the night are wonderful, and pages that are hard to write in the morning glide along in the past 10 pm hours. After dh has trotted off to bed. As apparently the housekeeping quirk was left out of me, I can sit contentedly on the living room couch with chaos around me. Then, if I still feel the need in the morning, I can straighten then in the morning when writing is tougher. I have a perfectly good desk, but after major spinal surgery, the desk and chair combination just doesn’t quite work for me, so the couch with pillows I can shift about and both feet flat on the floor, I am as happy as I need to be. The only problem is that continual sitting is hard on upholstery.
    First major writing expense out of royalties will probably have to be reupholstering my new throne: it’s presently getting wonderfully shiny!

    • sharla says:

      Oh Beppie, any kind of back surgery is so painful! I hope it improves soon. I had a friend who bought a stand up desk after her surgery because long sits were impossible, but it sounds like your case is the opposite. Good luck on the reupholster. I need to do my bed. The thing is 30 years old and is looking mighty raggedy.

      You are lucky to escape the neat freak syndrome. 🙂 I think it was bred into me. As a teen, my mom wouldn’t let me the house until I’d cleaned house on Sat. mornings. What a drag. And now I can hardly stop myself, darn it. 🙂

      Take care.

  3. Barbara Bettis says:

    Love the post. I used to be a graveyard writer because I needed absolute quiet; not so much these days. But let me tell you, I could use a little more of the neat naggies. I can write with stacks paper and books around me for ages. But then all at once, I can’t stand the clutter and I can’t write until things are pristine again.

  4. sharla says:

    Well, I have to resort to my old Graveyard habit, Barbara. Hubby just retired and is following me around like a lost puppy. It’s sweet but I’m not getting much work done. 🙂

  5. Thanks for this blog, Shar! So nice to know I’m not the only one who can’t write unless everything is neat and tidy! I also used to be a Graveyard Writer, and occasionally go back to it when I’m up against a deadline. (Yeah, can’t vacuum at 1 am!)
    Like you, my hubs retired, too. For 40 years, I had my days to myself and suddenly I’m never alone! I had to put my foot down when he innocently and enthusiastically planned to set up his own computer work station on the other side of my oversized office desk! NOooooo! On the plus side, he’s learning to vacuum, dust and grocery shop! 🙂

  6. sharla says:

    I know the feeling Gillian. I really don’t eat much during the day and all of the sudden my hubs wants lunch and often that means going out. And of course once we’re out, he wants to go here and there. I see the Graveyard shift a returning habit. Ha!

    I’m with you on sharing the desk! So far he hasn’t suggested that. 🙂

  7. Lyn Horner says:

    My biggest quirk is getting involved with social groups. Once I join, I feel like I have to keep up with the conversation. It eats up my writing time. not good!

  8. sharla says:

    I hear you on that Lyn. I don’t like doing anything half way and social media is a time suck. I feel like I need to learn more about it so that when I post, my message hits several media boards at once. I’m so not a techie but I’m learning.

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