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22 Interesting Facts about Writing

Fun facts from the world of writing

Since we launched this blog in 2012, we’ve uncovered all sorts of curious facts about the written word. We’ve also encountered some interesting trivia about the process of writing, and about how writers write. We hope you enjoy them.

Elizabethan scribe Peter Bales reportedly produced a complete, handwritten copy of the Bible so small it could fit inside a walnut shell.

Friedrich von Schiller kept rotten apples in his desk, claiming he needed the scent of their decay to help him write.

Edith Sitwell reportedly liked to lie in an open coffin before she began her day’s writing.

John Steinbeck used 300 pencils to write East of Eden and was known to use up to 60 pencils in a day.

Fountain pen writingThe word ‘mogigraphia’ means ‘writer’s cramp’.

The word ‘colygraphia’ means ‘writer’s block’.

Gertrude Stein claimed the water-drinking patterns of her dog, Basket, taught her the difference between sentences and paragraphs in writing.

Vladimir Nabokov and Gertrude Stein both liked to write while sitting in a parked car.

Poet Amy Lowell once bought a stash of 10,000 cigars, claiming she needed them to help her write.

Graham Greene would write 500 words a day and then stop – even in the middle of a sentence.

Anthony Trollope began his writing day at 5.30 every morning. He would write 250 words every 15 minutes, pacing himself with a watch.

J. R. R. Tolkien thought there were no new stories but only a ‘Cauldron of Story’ which writers dip into as they write.

Agatha Christie suffered from dysgraphia which meant she could not write legibly; as a result, she dictated all of her novels.

When Dr. Seuss was stuck writing his books, he would go to a secret closet filled with hundreds of hats and wear them till the words came.

Writing skillsTruman Capote would often write while lying on his back, with a glass of sherry in one hand and a pencil in the other.

Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote both sharpened pencils to help them think while they were writing.

In the 1891 UK census, 6,000 respondents identified themselves as writers, editors, or journalists; by 1901, the figure had risen to 11,000.

The first published novel that was ‘written’ on a word-processor was Len Deighton’s 1968 novel Bomber.

The first philosopher to ‘write’ on a typewriter was Friedrich Nietzsche.

Alfred Hitchcock once rang Georges Simenon only to learn the prolific author was writing a novel. ‘Let him finish,’ he said; ‘I’ll hang on.’

‘Scrabblement’ is a rare 17th-century word referring to ‘writing of a rambling character like that of a madman’.

‘Typomania’ denotes a mania for writing for publication.

If you enjoyed these writing-related facts, check out our curious facts about reading and literacy.

Image (top): Stipula fountain pen (picture credit: Antonio Litterio), Wikimedia Commons. Image (bottom): From Nick Daws’ Writing Blog.

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About interestingliterature

A blog dedicated to rooting out the interesting stuff about classic books and authors.

Posted on September 30, 2016, in Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. A great compilation here and love the idea of Dr Seuss and all his different hats!

  2. My dog can go all day without drinking. Then when he does, he drinks the whole bowl. Wonder what that would have done to Gertrude Stein’s writing.

  3. Also the number of writers who write or wrote in garden sheds!

  4. Terrific. Loved reading each of the facts.

  5. I loved Tolkein’s ‘Cauldron of Story’ – much more poetic and dynamic than the ‘7 basic plots’ as it rather covers the mysteriousness of creativity. But I think Truman Capote’s method sounds the most fun. Hic!

  6. SleepyDragon1320

    Reblogged this on Sleepy Book Dragon and commented:
    Exactly what it says on the tin!

  7. love the different word meanings especially ‘scrabblement’

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