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8 Authors Share Their Weird Writing Habits

August 11, 2016
Matt Pantoliano
Riveted Editorial Board
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Sure, there are authors that write in an office, at a desk, on a computer, during the day from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  There are other authors though that have more peculiar idiosyncrasies when it comes to their writing: John Steinbeck liked to write his drafts in pencil and needed to keep exactly twelve perfectly sharpened pencils on his desk, Agatha Christie liked to munch on apples in the bathtub while pondering murder plots. Some writers were known to only write when lying down (Mark Twain and George Orwell), others standing up (Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll). In keeping with our Summer of Weird, eight modern day YA authors shared with us some of their own habits — check them out below and if you’ve got any unusual writing habits of your own, let us know in the comments!

 

“When possible, I prefer to write first thing in the morning in a totally dark room, using a writing program with a black background.  Doing so gives me the feeling that the only thing that exists in the world are the words.”

—Shaun David Hutchinson, author of We are the Ants

ShaunDavidHutchinson

 

“I freak out if I don’t know how I’m going to end a book after I’ve written about ten percent of it. Also, I have a superstitious thing where I can’t plan sequel books until I have sold the first book in the series. Then oftentimes I must tweak the first book, since I’ve planned the sequels and it requires changes.”

—S. J. Kincaid, author of The Diabolic

SJKincaid

 

“My number one writing quirk is thunderstorms — that is, the sound of them. No matter where I am (at home, Starbucks, on a flight), if I turn on rainymood.com it gets me in the zone to create. It’s literally just the sound of a storm, on a loop. Try it. And make some extra-caffeinated tea so you don’t fall asleep.”

—Tim Federle, author of The Great American Whatever

TimFederle

 

“Two words: TINY FOOD. I love to snack while writing, so you’ll find Cheez-Its, pretzels, and candy corn scattered around my desk.”

— Suzanne Young, author of The Epidemic

SuzanneYoung

 

“To set the tone for what I’m going to write that day, I play music with the beat and emotion of the scene. It could be orchestral and epic, like video game music (which I love), or fun and funky dance music. But once I start writing I need absolute silence — as I write, I read everything out loud to myself to make sure it sounds casual and real (which, if the scene is intense, usually freaks out my cat!).”

—Laurent Linn, author of Draw the Line

LaurentLinn

 

“I try to start my writing morning with a strong cup of coffee and one Walker’s shortbread cookie, the kind in the red plaid box.  No other variety will do – it’s a delectable, pure-butter ritual that I somewhat superstitiously connect with having a good writing day.  Maybe it’s not exactly a healthy breakfast (that comes later), but it’s definitely a happy one.”

—Deb Caletti, author of Essential Maps for the Lost

DebCaletti

 

“On days when I’m desperate for motivation–and trying not to stress-eat too many snacks–I’ve found it helps to line my treats up against my laptop screen and only allow myself to eat one when I hit certain goals (30 min of straight writing, writing 500 words, etc). And I prefer to use treats with faces, like Teddy Grahams or gummy bears so they stare at me as I work, holding me accountable. That also makes it more fun when it’s time for their execution.”

— Shannon Messenger, author of Let the Wind Rise

ShannonMessenger

 

“I crank the AC in the summer so I can wear my lucky writing sweater!”

— S. M. Parker, author of The Girl Who Fell

ShannonParker

2 Responses to 8 Authors Share Their Weird Writing Habits


  1. Isa Caban says:

    Such a cool post! And I’m so happy to know that I’m not the only person with weird writing habits. I confess I personally like to listen to movie soundtracks while I’m writing up my pieces for Riveted. My go-to has to be the soundtrack from the film Moulin Rouge. I don’t know what it is about hearing an emo-looking Ewan McGregor sing to a perfectly ginger-haired Nicole Kidman that gets me in the writing mood, but it works! What can I say—#sorrynotsorry.

  2. DJLibrarian says:

    It’s fascinating to hear about the writing habits of authors. I know of some authors who do sit at a desk and write from 9 to 5 and others who, well, have their own methods. Personally, I’m with Laurent Linn since there is nothing quite like having tone/mood music going when writing. It really helps put you in the zone! And my music will vary from soundtracks (I’m partial to Memoirs of a Geisha) to rock (Skillet and Epica are great for fight scenes) to vocals (anything Celtic, Sarah Brightman). It always depends on the scene, but I love my music, especially when it helps me get into my writing.

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