12 September 2014

When Our Work Becomes as Quirky and Unique as We Are

Ernest Hemingway woke up early with the goal of writing 500 words. He wrote standing up and said he was "done by noon, drunk by three." He built his own boxing ring inside his home to spar with guests and friends.

Unlike Hemingway, Agatha Christie wrote when she felt like it and her favorite place to think through mysteries was sitting in the bathtub while eating apples.

Charles Dickens was an insomniac who walked for miles at night, hoping that being lost would inspire his creativity.

Maya Angelou checked into a hotel room stripped bare of paintings or other distractions to write each day. Until 2 PM, her only companions in the room were a Bible, thesaurus, a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards, and some crossword puzzles. After 2 she would head home to edit.

Truman Capote always wrote lying down.

[These - and a few other - delightfully quirky personality traits and working styles of famous authors can be found here in a post written by Ginni Chen.]

These writers were some of the most productive people in history. (Think about how many dollars in revenue have been generated by Dickens' writing alone.) And their writing styles were unorthodox, tailored to their own peculiarities and productivity rather than a social convention embodied in standard work hours and spaces, 8 to 5 and cubicles.

There was a time in history when only the rich and powerful were assured enough food or were free to express individual religious beliefs. Maybe we'll eventually progress to the point that everyone has the freedom to work in a style that expresses who they are.


2 comments:

Lifehiker said...

A smart employer expects certain outputs from each job, finds people capable of producing them, and gives those people as much freedom as possible to determine how the outputs are actually accomplished.

Taylor Pearson said...

"Maybe we'll eventually progress to the point that everyone has the freedom to work in a style that expresses who they are."

Perhaps we're already there and it's more a question of everyone actually exercising that freedom?