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What is Your Idiosyncrasy..?

December 14, 2013

Idiosyncrasy – definition: a strange or peculiar characteristic or trait.


Normally I do not share the second half of my desk diary meaning as it is a sentence incorporating the word. However, today’s is different and you will understand why once you read it. It is too relevant not to use it.

Sentence : The eccentric writer had so many idiosyncrasies it was hard for anyone to tolerate her.

Yes, we have our own ‘special’ traits and to the outside world – not our writing pals, of course  – they may seem peculiar. Writers become absorbed into the worlds they create, their characters are ‘real’ and once the novel has finished many remain with us. We speak about them as we would our own family and friends, we anguish about their plight, even though we are the one creating it.

I found some peculiarities of famous authors, take a look.

The novelist, Nicholson Baker took to getting up at 4.30 am, and he liked what it did to his brain: “The mind is newly cleansed, but it’s also befuddled… I found that I wrote differently then.”

Capote would supposedly write supine, with a glass of sherry in one hand and a pencil in another.

Cheever wrote: “To publish a definitive collection of short stories in one’s late 60’s seems to me, as an American writer, a traditional and a dignified occasion, eclipsed in no way by the fact that a great many of the stories in my current collection were written in my underwear.”

St. Flannery explained “I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.” Since she had lupus, any activity was incredibly taxing for her during the end of her life, so she sat facing the blank surface of her wood dresser, which provided no distractions.

Nabokov :  “My schedule is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.”

Thomas Clayton Wolfe:  “I use a typewriter. I set myself a quota — ten pages a day, triple-spaced, which means about eighteen hundred words. If I can finish that in three hours, then I’m through for the day. I just close up the lunch box and go home — that’s the way I think of it anyway. If it takes me twelve hours, that’s too bad, I’ve got to do it.”

Somerset Maugham had to face a blank wall before the words would come (any other view, he felt, was too distracting)

David Foster Wallace explained  “I usually go in shifts of three or four hours with either naps or fairly diverting do-something-with-other-people things in the middle,” Wallace said in 1996, shortly after the publication of Infinite Jest. “So I’ll get up at 11 or noon, work till two or three.”  “So I’ll get up at 11 or noon, work till two or three.”

Agatha Christie complained she had “endless trouble with journalists, who inevitably wanted to photograph the author at her desk”: a problematic request, because she didn’t have one. Any stable tabletop for her typewriter would do.

I find walking helps me to clear any muddle of plot and there is evidence to suggest that walking – especially walking in natural settings, or just lingering amid greenery,  is associated with increased productivity and proficiency at creative tasks.  The best aspect of walking is removing myself from the sources of distraction – televisions, computer screens and social media. At least now I have a designated writing area (photo above) and I will gradually refine it.

What idiosyncrasies do you have?


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