The poet Friedrich von Schiller used to keep rotten apples under the lid of his desk, open it, inhale deeply and compose. ... Colette first picked fleas from her cat, then wrote. ... Voltaire used his lover's naked back as a writing desk. ... It's said that Edgar Allen Poe wrote with a cat on his shoulder. ... T.S. Eliot preferred writing when he had a head cold.Strange how synchronicity works. Yesterday I found myself reading an essay on the subject by novelist Kent Haruf from the New York Times collection, Writers on Writing. (And look, I've tracked the piece down for you online!)
Haruf (who apparently wrote the first draft of his novel Plainsong with a wool stocking cap pulled down over his eyes, typing away blindly in an unheated basement!) is fascinated by the question of the rituals writers use to psyche themselves up to face the blank page. He explains the phonomena like this:
... perhaps because writing fiction — this weird practice of telling artful lies, this peculiar habit of inventing imaginary people who talk and move and sleep and dream and wake up and kick and kiss one another — is so bizarre in itself is the reason why writers have to find bizarre ways to make it possible even to consider doing it. .... So of course they have to write in their underwear and face the backs of dressers. Of course they have to pull stocking caps down over their faces. Otherwise they might as well do something practical and ordinary, become doctors and lawyers and ditch diggers like everyone else.Like Zafar I don't have any strange writing habits but it might be fun to adopt some. In lieu of fleas to pick off my cats, anyone wanna come over and be my writing desk?