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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My name is Lauren, and I'm a Coffee Addict...

Writing is tricky business. Words are sneaky: they skate, and slide, and slip away just when you need them. Characters turn unruly. Plot lines bend and waver like light through water. Writing is like mental rodeo: exhausting, frightening, and extremely taxing on the lower back.

I think that's why a lot of writers develop certain inflexible habits when it comes to their routines. It's almost shamanistic. We tend to believe a certain desk, a certain pen, or a certain word processor will confer upon us the luck we'll need in order to stay the ride for another day. It's kind of like a major league baseball player who always wears the same pair of socks during a winning spree, except much less smelly. Hopefully.

I've always thought myself relatively free of those kind of superstitions. I can write anywhere, on anything, with anything. I can write during a meeting (and make it look like I'm taking notes--snap!). I can type onn my blackberry in the subway (I wrote much of Before I Fall this way). I'm like a one-woman Dr. Seuss poem: I can write in a train, I can write on a plane...I can write in a car! On a bus! In a bar!

However, recently I've discovered there is one thing I absolutely, positively need in order to write.

Coffee.

And I'm not just sayin' I need my morning cup of Joe to wake me up. Coffee is my crutch. Pausing to sip, or refill, or brew more provides me a welcome distraction when I'm stuck; it is also my reward for working.

Unfortunately, I write a lot. Which means I drink about ten cups of coffee a day. I could basically run an entire Starbucks franchise out of my stomach.

So recently, on vacation in Mexico, I went down to one--ONE!--cup a day.

I am happy to report that I still got a lot of writing done. I am unhappy to report that I essentially did nothing else, since I was asleep all the time.

Now that I'm back in NYC, I'm going to try my hardest not to hit the coffee pot as hard as I have been. I'm staying on the wagon, people...at least until I tumble off, snoring.

What are YOUR worst habits/biggest crutches? You know you can tell me!

18 comments:

L.J. Boldyrev said...

My biggest one is candy.Good & Plenty candy is my favorite. If I don't have that I reach for jelly beans or some other gummy. Considering it used to be cigarettes, I think I'm ok. And I chew on my pen. That's embarrassing to admit, but I guess I have a writing induced oral fixation.

Loretta Nyhan said...

Green tea. Oceans of it.

Cary Cheyenne! said...

I'm definitely right there with you when it comes to coffee. I used to drink a lot more than I do now. I probably drink a cup a day or none at all. It was kind of hard to kick but I didn't really have a choice because of my Panic Disorder. I was told I shouldn't have anything with caffeine so I slowly stopped my coffee habits. Caffeine isn't as big of a deal as doctors make it out to be but coffee really does wire me and make me anxious. So now I basically drink Vitamin Water nonstop. I'm also really bad when it comes to people talking to me while I'm trying to write so I have to be somewhere quiet by myself. It helps me a lot and it's also very relaxing. I snap at people when I'm trying to do something that requires my attention and they're being really loud or something as if they don't see me there. Ha ha. I also eat ice constantly. I have no idea why. . . I just do. And I chew on my pen too ^_^

Kathryn said...

One cup a day? You're a champion. I couldn't do it.

Nicole said...

Just food in general. Whenever I can't think of what to write next or the right word or phrase, I nibble on something. I'm still in school so I don't right 24/7, and I'm afraid if I did that I'd be 50 pounds more than I am right now lol. Maybe in the future my creative addiction will change from food to coffee

Jenny said...

Haha, love this post!! I am like that with coffee too... and I love the writing in meetings and making it look like I'm taking notes!! I do that too, haha!

Melissa said...

Coffee.

Coffee and chocolate. Hence the mocha problem = too many calories. I'd stick with black coffee but it tends to rub holes in my stomach (hence the need for Tums and Prevacid).

I also snarf cottage cheese...major dietary staple :)

Steph said...

So funny about the cottage cheese, because I eat string cheese like crazy while I write. Also, I guzzle Mountain Dew, which I think is way worse than coffee. If I am going to be writing all day I will drink about 4 of the 20 oz bottles, what is that like 2 days worth of worthless calories. I am disgusted with myself just thinking about it now!

Rachele Alpine said...

I rely on any kind of gummy candy and my Ipod. I need music. I once went to Starbucks to write, realized I left my ear buds at home and ran to the drug store nearby to get a new pair. I had bought a Frapacinno and they agreed to keep it cold until I came back!

PaulaKayMac said...

This post had me laughing out loud.

I have a table at my local Starbucks that is MY table and I'm a bit peeved when someone else is sitting there. It's not that I can't write somewhere else, but I am so used to that spot that it feels like home. But the coffee is the same, so I guess that's okay. And I do drink MANY cups a day with no desire to stop.

I think recently "they" said on the news that drinking coffee was good for you now. I'll go with that. : )

Ella Press said...

I have to have a cup of coffee of tea when I'm writing too. But I never drink more than 2 cups a day! Ten is just crazy!

Cleverly Inked said...

Even super man has needs. Yours happens to be coffee. Writing is seriously tough work. That's why I leave it to professionals such as yourself!

Amy Revenge said...

Honestly, my pet peeve is like EVERYTHING. I can't even explain it. But my biggest habbit (and I think it's kind of cute?) is that when I talk in front of classes and big crowds, I tend to talk out of the corner of my mouth. The left side, if you're interested :) It's so annoying, though!

If you've ever noticed (hopefully you haven't, though) the front man of My Chemical Romance sometimes does the same thing. But I think it's natural for him. :/

Oh!
I also chew at the inside of my lower lip. It's a horrible addiction! Yes, I used the word addiction. It's physically IMPOSSIBLE for me to stop.

Do you think my chewing could count as cannibalism? :O

molly (a dazzling distraction) said...

I am also a coffee addict. I have a mug that fits all of the coffee from my 4 cup coffee maker, so I use that and then refill it at least once throughout the day. (But I do switch to decaf on the refills.)
I blame the whole addiction on working in coffee shops. I started when I was 15 and worked in different coffee shops (and bookstores) until I was 21. Even when I worked in the bookstores, I'd occasionally be scheduled in the cafe because I knew how to run things.

Robby said...

Title of this post=story of my life.

Daisy Whitney said...

Major green tea addict here...Even when it's warm outside I drink tea when I write at home...even at night...doesn't matter...tea just sustains wakefulness for me...it's the fuel all day long...

Melissa said...

Earl Grey tea with honey... alas, nothing requiring mental prowess has been accomplished lately because I'm newly-ish pregnant and CAN'T STAND TEA. This was a devastating development. I woke up this morning and craved it, though, so I'm considering that a very good sign.
I also need really good music without words or utter silence (which is pretty much impossible). And usually snacks.

Thayná said...

My biggest one is candy. All the kinds of candies, but specialy, Chocolate! Oh My! I LOVE chocolate! @_@ And I'm already addicted to it! I think I don't pass even one day without eating a little of it! Crazy, right?! :)
Kisses :*

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