In honor of Ernest Hemingway’s birthday today, here’s a fun fact for you: Did you know that the author preferred to write standing up? He would write on a chest-high bookcase in his bedroom in Havana, while wearing loafers and leaning down on the top shelf. Nearby on the wall, meanwhile, he had a large chart, which logged his daily word count (the average: 500 per day). According to Thornton Wilder, Hemingway also had another quirk — he would always start the day by sharpening 20 pencils. As Celia Blue Johnson writes in Odd Type Writers — which traces the unusual habits of the literary set — Hemingway would later deny that bit, but he did offer this advice for writer’s block: “First,” he said, “you have to defrost the refrigerator.”

Photograph from the Ernest Hemingway Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

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