Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Writing and Caffeine

Last January 1st, apart from embarking on writing a new novel, I decided to give up caffeine.

Some people might say “Ouch!” or “I bet that was one New Year’s resolution she didn’t stick to”. But nine months on, I proudly announce that I’ve not drunk any caffeine for the last eight months.

I spent the first month cutting down gradually, to avoid the headaches that can go with sudden withdrawal. First, I replaced my afternoon cup of caffeinated tea with decaffeinated, to add to my earlier rule of no caffeine after midday. Next, I cut out caffeine mid-morning. And last (this was the most painful of all), I gave up caffeine first thing in the morning.

Writing whilst fighting narcolepsy from lack of caffeine did cause slight problems, as my chin had a few close encounters with the keyboard, but I certainly didn’t miss having the jitters all day long.

Now I’m doing a read through and edit of my novel, I’m glad to say that my drowsiness didn’t interfere with my creativity at all: rather, it made me pace myself more sensibly and take time out for reflection.

Happily, the long-term effects of my self-imposed torture are all positive and I certainly won’t go back to drinking caffeine. There’s no more insomnia, which means I don’t lie in bed at night getting in a wind-up about publishers and agents; no more rushing to the toilet every five minutes due to the diuretic effects of tea and interrupting my flow of thoughts (not apologising for the pun here!); no more swearing at the phone for ringing too much, or the computer for malfunctioning, due to caffeine stress syndrome, and no more palpitations every time the postal delivery man comes to the door re possible manuscript rejections.

One note of caution. If anybody feels brave enough to follow in my footsteps and kick the caffeine habit, it’s important to buy a tea or coffee that doesn’t use chemical solvents such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate to strip the caffeine from their product. Look for one that uses carbon dioxide instead, as it’s better for you and better for the environment.

AfternoonTea&Flapjack.JPG

An essential part of a writer’s day: afternoon tea with homemade cake πŸ™‚

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18 thoughts on “Writing and Caffeine

  1. that photo for sure looks a good trade for coffee πŸ™‚
    groetjes, Francina

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  2. I enjoy caffeine in the mornings. How is that book coming along that you began in January, Sarah?

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    • I’ve finished the first draft of my novel and am halfway through a read through/edit. Also, I’ve a few more poems to write as headers to the chapters, as abandoned doing this a third of the way through the novel in my urgency to get the plot down. I’m feeling optimistic, as the read through isn’t throwing up any huge problems, contradictions, or many typos. Long may this continue. Hope to be finished by the end of October.

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  3. Well done, Sarah. I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee, but hardly ever drink the stuff. I live on green tea. πŸ™‚

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  4. Well done you! πŸ™‚

    Think i’ll tackle the nicotine before i start on the caffeine lol

    xx

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    • I hope the nicotine withdrawal isn’t too horrendous. That “pen” of yours is really cool looking. It reminds me of a 1920s cigarette holder! Don’t know if it’s called a pen, but you know the thing I mean: that gadget of yours that acts like a dummy and puffs out pretend cigarette smoke πŸ™‚

      xx

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      • He he he, yeah, it does look a bit like a cigarette holder, thats why i went for that one and not one of the ones that actually looks like a cigarette. Plus, that way, people wont mistake it for a real cigarette πŸ™‚

        xx

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  5. We have a tea here that’s completely uncaffienated – Rooibos – don’t know if you get it there, I know you can get it in the states.
    As for giving up caffeine – i don’t actually think so!! Life’s too short to not enjoy a cuppa!
    But cudo’s to you Sarah – you made the resolution and stuck to it – well done!

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  6. I have two cups every morning to start my day. I was thinking this morning about cutting down to one but I don’t have many vices so I don’t think I would ever stop. It does keep me awake at night if I have it late in the day but that is the reason I don’t.

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    • I can never understand why drinking chocolate is sold as a good drink to help you sleep, considering how much caffeine there is in chocolate. And hot milk before bed gives me indigestion (even hot goat’s milk).

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      • I think it is something to do with the digestion system taking lots of blood flow to process all the lactose that is supposed to make you sleepy.

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  7. Pingback: Caffeine, the Writer’s Fuel? | Poseidon's Scribe

    • Thank you for the mention. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up the no caffeine thing, as I need kick-starting the mornings. Now, I find that one cup of caffeinated tea about half an hour after rising and one cup of decaffeinated tea in the afternoon is quite enough. Apart from this, I sip water throughout the day as this helps keep me awake.

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