Celia Blue Johnson shares research she has conducted for her new book, Odd Type Writers: As a young writer Virginia Woolf preferred to stand while she wrote. Her desk was three and a half feet tall. Quentin Bell, Woolf’s nephew, concluded that the habit was spurred by sibling rivalry. Woolf’s sister Vanessa was an artist who painted at an easel. Bell noted, “This led Virginia to feel that her own pursuit might appear less arduous than that of her sister unless she set matters on a footing of equality.” Eventually Woolf transitioned from standing to sitting.
In his late twenties, James Joyce wore a white coat while he worked. He’d put it on, climb into bed, and compose his work with a blue pencil. His sister Eileen noted that the coat “gave a kind of white light” that helped him see the page. Joyce battled eye diseases throughout his life. As his sight worsened, the resourceful author magnified his entire creative process, writing intricate sentences with colored crayons on large pieces of cardboard.