Many people who write online day after day finally come to the end of a path that says, “Dead End” and inspiration fails. When that dreadful writer’s block comes upon you it can be pretty daunting and you wonder where your next thoughts might come from. Things are never as bad as they seem and perhaps if there are moments when we fear we will never write another word let’s take a look at what well-known writers did.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. took nude air baths. He figured that an open window let air circulate and this was an important disease prevention measure. It helped him combine his thoughts better.
Well-known writer Victor Hugo the author of such books as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” has his own method. If words did not flow he removed his clothes and handed them to his valet. Then he locked himself in this room until the words began to flow again.
When it came to the creator of such wonderful characters as Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain preferred to gather his thoughts on his bed. He had a favorite bed with a lovely carved oak headboard.
Another author who took to her bed was Edith Sitwell but supposedly took things to the extreme she would begin her writing day by lying in an open coffin. Talk about composing your thoughts.
Maya Angelou preferred to rent a local hotel room for a month at a time. She removed all distractions from the room like artwork or decorations. The only items left were the Bible, a poem collection, a dictionary, a thesaurus, a deck of playing cards, a bottle of sherry, cigarettes and an ashtray. All right I agree for most of us smoking is not an agreeable habit so that could be eliminated but the idea of the playing cards was the game of solitaire brought the flow of language. It is something to consider but you might want to have this setting in your own home instead of taking it to a hotel which can get expensive.
Truman Capote the author of such American classics like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood” also preferred a lie down in his bed. He had some odd superstitions. He would never begin or end a piece of writing on a Friday, he would never stay in a hotel room that included the number 13 in the phone number and being a smoker even though he smoked more than three cigarettes per day he never left more than three butts in an ashtray putting the rest in his coat pocket. Of course, being a published author one could afford certain peculiarities.
The French author Alexandre Dumas whose books included “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers” believed that the aesthetics of writing were almost just as important as the writing itself. He would color-code his work. Fiction was written on blue paper, poetry on yellow and non-fiction on pink paper. Once when he was traveling and ran out of blue paper and was forced to use plain white paper he thought his writing was worse.
Virginia Woolf wrote with different-colored pens among which purple was her favorite.
Author James Joyce of such novels as “Ulysses” and “The Dubliners” preferred to write on his stomach, using cardboard and blue crayons. Boy, this would give my neck an awful crick. Since the author was almost blind due to having suffered a childhood myopia the blue crayon was easier for him to see. He always wore a white coat since this best-reflected light most importantly at nighttime.
The author of “Madame Bovary” Gustave Flaubert had quite an unusual schedule. He would wake up at 10 in the morning and knock on the ceiling announcing to his mother that he wanted to have a talk. As he spoke to his mom, who would sit on the bed he would be a smoking smokestack and the fumes would make his migraines worse but he would continue to do so. Then he would soak in the bathtub in scalding hot water and later applied a tonic to his balding head.
Author Franz Kafka of “The Metamorphosis” sold insurance by day and wrote at night. His days were the usual 9 – 5 grind and he would begin his writing at around 10:30 at night and write into the wee hours. Somehow the working and the writing combination worked well for him.
William Faulkner would do the opposite. He would write during the day hours and work the night shift at a power plant.
German poet Friedrich Schiller needed the stench of rotten apples to keep writing.
English –American poet W.H. Auden had a habit of taking Benzedrine every morning for twenty years from 1938 onward and took the barbiturate Seconal if he needed to balance the effects so he could sleep. If this combination didn’t work Auden kept a glass of vodka on his night table.
Hunter S. Thompson was notorious for his breakfast of cocaine, Chivas Regal, and Dunhill cigarettes. This combination seemed to work for him throughout the day. Going out for lunch he would add in Heineken and margaritas in the mix and if he had a snow cone, just shredded ice in a glass he’d pour on several jiggers of Chivas. By midnight he was ready to write until 6 AM when he would have more lethal combinations among them Chartreuse, gin, and champagne. After 8 AM he was ready to sleep. If I did something like this for even one week I do believe I might not have writer’s block, have a rosy look on life but would be checking in at the Pearly Gates early.
As you can tell writers have and will always do whatever it takes to keep them inspiring and writing. Not all of the methods might be the best and some are downright strange if not dangerous or unhealthy but a writer has to do what he does best and that is to continue writing. Do you have certain things that you do so you can keep writing?