Five Quirks of Highly Effective Writers

Five Quirky Daily Habits of Famous Writers

Number four might just make you rich!


  1. Vladimir Mayakovsky—

The co-founder of Russian futurism and creator of long-running animated TV show, The Simpsons—Mayakovsky had many habits that we today might view as a bit weird. Most notably was his morning routine. After rising at six AM sharp and washing his face and head, Mayakovsky would start each day with a bowl full of lint, fluff and dust meticulously picked from Lenin’s little goatee. When asked about it in a 1928 interview with TMZ, Mayakovsky famously said, ‘if [the beard] can guide us through the October Revolution, it can guide me through my day.’


  1. Martin Amis—

Amis, most famous for his 1984 novel Money, and for being the first surviving offspring of a human woman and a hog, swears he owes his success to one little trick—he refuses to either bathe with or drink any water that has not passed through the digestive tract of 1960s camp icon Barbara Windsor. He believes that certain enzymes, found only in Babs’ large intestine not only brighten the skin but also aid creativity. I’ll drink to that!


  1. George Orwell—

Chronicler of the Spanish Civil War and part-time biblical prophet, Orwell (real name Reginald Dwight) is one of the 20th century’s most celebrated writers—but he had a little-known secret. Orwell refused to eat anything but sub-Saharan leopard. PETA’s worst nightmare, Orwell first got the taste for the big cat (which he described as ‘nothing short of dreadful’) when on safari in Ghana. Orwell later claimed his palate had become so accustomed to the taste that it was all he could eat. In an effort to catch him out, Orwell’s friend Lord Thomas Manchet once served him lion meat during the main course of a dinner party. Upon smelling it, Orwell knew immediately and proceeded to carve and eat Lord Manchet. Now that’s a sophisticated palate!


2. Anton Chekhov—

This is the most well-known story on this list and may seem a bit obvious but, nonetheless, I feel it deserves a mention. Russian master of the short story, Anton Chekov famously slept every night nailed to a large piece of wood, buried under seven feet of earth. He claimed that unless he did this the ‘pressures of the outside world’ wouldn’t allow to him to rest. Standing at only 3”2, Chekhov struggled getting into and out of his hole every day and required the aid of his man-servant, Bruno. Bruno was a feeble, asthmatic man and by the time Chekhov had been exhumed each morning, he would only have about an hour above-ground before he had to start the burial procedure again.


  1. John Donne—

Historically, little has been known about John Donne beside his much-publicised love of Bacardi Breezers and his short-lived affair with Andre Breton. Recently, however, new documents have come to light which give a much deeper insight into the man’s personal life. For instance, we now know about Donne’s extreme dislike of music. This may not seem too odd, until we find out that he filled his ears with molten lead on more than one occasion. But it wasn’t only his audio choices that earn his place on this list. Donne used to start each day with what he called his ‘mud walk’. This practice involved stripping naked, covering himself head to toe in the green silt he found at the edges of his favourite lake before terrorising local villagers as they slept. Scholars now believe that this is where the myth of the Morden Mud Man originated.

Dan Melling is a first year MFA candidate for poetry at Virginia Tech. He currently resides in Blacksburg, Va, where he pursues his passion of fox watching.


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