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The Eccentric Writing Rituals of 10 Famous Writers

The mind of a creative genius can be a mysterious and strange place. No, we’re not here to stipulate whether or not creative genius is possible without a certain degree of chaos and eccentricity. But we do find it quite peculiar and charming that many of the most famous authors in history went to extreme lengths “to get the wheels turning”.
While these writers' works are unquestionably celebrated, glorious, and awe-inspiring, their odd writing rituals and quirks - from keeping rotten apples in the desk to walking lobsters on a leash - certainly raise a great number of questions.

1. Demosthenes

Strange Habits of Famous Writers Demosthenes
The Athenian orator is famous for his many contributions to Greek culture and politics. Still,  few people know that Demosthenes came up with one odd solution to motivate himself to work. To force himself to stay at home and work, the Greek orator would shave only half of his head.
As the Greek historian and philosopher, Plutarch, wrote about Demosthenes, “Here he would continue, oftentimes without intermission, two or three months together, shaving one half of his head, that so for shame he might not go abroad, though he desired it ever so much.”

2. Honore de Balzac

Strange Habits of Famous Writers Honore de Balzac
The French author has gone down in history as the most hard-working writer, and you’re about to find out why. Balzac’s work schedule was as follows: he would wake up at 1 AM, work for 7 hours, nap between 8 and 9:30 AM, then continue working for another six and a half hours, take a stroll and meet friends, and then he would go to sleep at 6 PM.
If you’re wondering how Blazac managed to stay keep up with this crazy work schedule, the answer is simple - coffee - of which the French author drank up to 50 cups every day. 

3. Lord Byron

Strange Habits of Famous Writers  Lord Byron
Byron liked to spend time around wild animals, and some would say a little too much… For example, as a student, Byron famously kept a “pet” bear in his dorm room. Sometimes, the Romantic poet would even take it for walks on the school campus. This fascination with animals only evolved with time, and the poet reportedly kept cats, dogs, monkeys, peacocks, eagles, and crows in his ancestral home in Newstead Abbey and his other homes in Switzerland, Italy, and Greece.

4. Virginia Woolf

Strange Habits of Famous Writers Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf loved the color purple, so much so that she wrote many of her masterpieces, including Mrs. Dalloway, in purple ink. The first release of one of her early novels, Friendships Gallery, was both printed in purple ink and bound in purple leather.
Another writing quirk the famous writer had was a standing desk, which was not a common occurrence back in the day. Virginia adopted this habit in solidarity with her sister, Vanessa, a painter, and worked while standing.

5. Harper Lee

Strange Habits of Famous Writers Harper Lee
Working on a project for a long time can be frustrating. If you’re a perfectionist, it can sometimes seem like all the hard work you’ve done is no good and you just want to throw it all out of the window. This is literally what had happened to Harper Lee and the manuscript of a book you may be familiar with - it’s called To Kill A Mockingbird.
The writer threw the draft of her masterpiece out of her New York City apartment window. Fortunately, Lee’s editor managed to convince the author to retrieve her book.

6. James Joyce

Strange Habits of Famous Writers James Joyce
Once upon a time, James Joyce invited his sister Eileen to move in with him and watch after his children. This is how the world learned of the world-famous Irish novelist’s quirky writing habits. Eileen discovered that every night, instead of going to bed, Joyce would lie on his stomach and start writing.
But the odd writing position wasn’t even the weirdest part, as Joyce would also wear a white coat while doing so. His sister later found out that the white coat had a practical use. The writer’s vision was getting worse, and the brightness of the color reflected light and helped Joyce see better.

7. Sir Walter Scott

Strange Habits of Famous Writers Sir Walter Scott
You don’t have to stay indoors all the time to be a good writer. Sir Walter Scott, for example, composed one of his most famous poems, Marmion, while riding a horse. Scott described his writing process to his son-in-law, Lockhart, as follows: "Oh, man, I had many a grand gallop among these braes when I was thinking of Marmion."
Related Article: Weirdest Geniuses

8. Friedrich Schiller

Strange Habits of Famous Writers Friedrich Schiller
To put it lightly, one can say that the German dramatist, Friedrich Schiller, had a pretty eccentric work setup. Like many authors, Schiller worked at night, and to fight off sleep, he dipped his feet in freezing cold water. And if you think that this isn’t that weird, here’s more: Schiller also kept rotten apples in his work desk drawer. Why? According to Schiller, the smell of rotten apples is very motivating - a theory we’re not planning on testing any time soon.

9. John Milton

Strange Habits of Famous Writers John Milton
Milton’s Paradise Lost is a classic piece of literature, and many have read it completely unaware of the fact that Milton didn’t write it. He couldn’t write it because Milton was blind. Instead, the English poet dictated it to a secretary. But it’s that simple because, in actuality, the English poet had a very strict work regimen.
Milton would wake up at 4 AM every day and spend an hour musing in solitude. Then, his secretary would arrive and read him the Bible, and only after that, Milton would start dictating his poems. But the strangest part of this process occurred when the secretary was late: Milton would reportedly walk around the house mumbling, “I want to be milked. I want to be milked.”

10. Oscar Wilde

Strange Habits of Famous Writers Oscar Wilde
Lord Byron was certainly not the only eccentric pet owner. For example, Oscar Wilde famously had a pet lobster while he was a student at Oxford. And much like Byron, Oscar Wild, too, believed that his pet deserved the occasional walk, so he would tie a string around his pet lobster and let him walk around the campus. What can we say? For a man who once said, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”, this eccentric habit is hardly out of character.
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