When I told my Ukrainian-American hair dresser I was going to be a published writer, she laughingly asked if that meant I’d be taking up smoking. She had this image in mind of a stereotypical writer, laboring over a typewriter and smoking cigarette after cigarette. Personally, I thought the stereotype was more about the alcoholic writer relying on liquor to call the muse, but I think the reality is more about the coffee-drinking writer.
Writers LOVE coffee.
I noticed this right away when I joined Twitter last year and started connecting with other writers. I was struck by how many of them mentioned their fondness for coffee in their profiles--that tiny space where you're allotted only 140 characters to describe yourself to the world. Coffee is that important.
And then, of course, there’s the writer in the coffee shop, tapping away at a laptop amidst the inspiring aromas and chatter. It's kind of a romantic image to me, but I know it's actually commonplace for many writers who find they are most productive in such stimulating public places. Here coffee becomes fuel AND atmosphere.
Ah, coffee. I do like it. Maybe I even love it. Me and coffee, we go way back. Coffee has been dependable, there for me, day after day. For a while, I was a faithful Starbucks customer, but then I started making my own (organic, fair trade) brew at home. Every morning, like a ritual, I would make my coffee, fill my travel mug, and be on my way sipping that warm, familiar coffeeliciousness. Then, once it's in my system, coffee gives me that little jolt of happy that makes me feel alive, sparks ideas, and spurs creativity.
Coffee is powerful. And wonderful.
It also makes my heart beat faster in a maybe-not-quite-healthy way. And, quite possibly, it could be guilty of causing some recurring tummy troubles I’ve experienced. I’ve also heard it releases stress hormones, exacerbates anxiety, and increases your risk for a host of other problems.
It’s also a little disturbing how coffee worms its way into my brain, so that if I’m late in getting the expected coffee fix, the coffee-absence starts beating me up from the inside out. Headaches, lethargy, blah. It’s insidious.
So, I decided to quit coffee for a little while.
Actually, I quit a few other things too. Refined sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol. Oh, my!
Well, I quit them for a month.
See, I’m doing a “cleanse.” I saw an opportunity to sign up for the 30-day Vital Life Cleanse with Melissa Costello, and I jumped at the chance. I did the 14-day version before, so I knew I could do it.
My main reason for doing the cleanse was actually not to kick the coffee habit. It was really to kick the sugar habit. I think sugar may be nearly as addictive as caffeine. And it seems so innocent! That sweet, chewy chocolate chip cookie, that cute little bite of chocolate candy. That wholesome frosted birthday cake, or cupcake, or muffin. That all-American apple pie!
It’s really, really hard to pass on the sweet stuff. And then it’s hard to stop at just one, or two, or three.
So, THAT’s the real reason I signed up.
By doing this program, I get accountability and support, recipes and resources, and more. Most importantly, I get to feel proud for doing something good for myself and my longevity (which is good for my family too). And I get to jumpstart some new healthy habits.
I’m in week 2 now, and feeling pretty good. I survived Halloween without consuming a single piece of candy corn! Not even a single Hershey’s miniature or mini-Kit Kat from the bags my husband brought home for the trick-or-treaters (and us).
Instead, I’m eating lots of whole foods: veggies, rice, quinoa, beans, nuts & nutbutter, oatmeal, berries, etc., etc. I’m not starving.
I do still kinda miss my coffee, though. There really is no great substitute. Herbal tea, Teeccino, and green juice are just not the same.
But, I still have two and a half weeks left. We’ll see how I feel at the end.
P.S. I usually try not to generalize, but it sure does seem as if an awful lot of writers love their coffee, especially if the comments on this article are any indication. Of course, some folks like tea or other forms of caffeine, while a few rare birds don't need a thing. How about you? Are you a proud coffee drinker?
A nature-loving, mystery-reading, magic-seeking, daydreaming kinda gal, Jennifer is the author of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries.