Getting naked seems to be a way that some writers got over writer’s block and stimulated their Muse.
Benjamin Franklin took “air baths,” writing his essays and letters in a cold room while nude. Agatha Christie and Edmond Rostand both liked writing in the bathtub. James Whitcomb Riley wrote naked so he wouldn’t be tempted to walk to the bar, and when Victor Hugo felt distracted, he removed all his clothes so that he was totally alone with pen and paper. As a writing warm-up, D.H. Lawrence would climb mulberry trees in his birthday suit. To keep his mind fresh, Franz Kafka exercised in front of the window—naked.
Other unusual habits included:
John Cheever woke up, put on a suit, and went to work. And unlike everyone else, he took an elevator down to his apartment building’s basement, stripped off all his clothes, and wrote in his underwear. Gertrude Stein liked lounging in the passenger seat of her Model-T Ford, penning prose while her partner Alice Toklas drove around doing errands.
James Joyce liked writing in bed while on his stomach. He also always wore a white coat for practical reasons. Joyce was nearly blind, and the bright coat reflected light and helped him see. As his eyesight worsened, he wrote on cardboard with colored crayons. Demosthenes, the Greek orator, would shave half of his head because it forced him to stay inside and work. Plutarch writes, “Here he would continue, oftentimes without intermission, two or three months together, shaving one half of his head, that so for shame he might not go abroad, though he desired it ever so much.”
John Milton started his day at 4:00 a.m. He spent the first hour thinking in solitude. Then an aide would read him the Bible for half an hour, afterward dictating whatever Milton said. (Milton was blind, and those dictations would become Paradise Lost). Whenever the aide was late, Milton griped, “I want to be milked. I want to be milked.”
No one worked harder than Honorè De Balzac. He’d wake up at 1:00 a.m., write for seven hours, take a nap at 8:00 a.m., wake up at 9:30 a.m., write again till 4:00 p.m., take a walk, visit friends, and call it a night at 6:00 p.m. To fuel all that writing, he threw back upwards of 50 cups of coffee per day
From Mental Floss: