It being tricky to write whilst holding a hotdog, most writers have a beverage of choice. Stephen King used to run on beer – a crate every evening at one point. Hemingway liked mojitos. Dorothy Parker favoured whiskey. The Chinese poet, Xiuxi Yin was quoted as saying ‘Once drunk, a cup of wine can bring 100 stanzas.’
But these habits can, as in the case of Dylan Thomas, become an issue. Many famous authors were alcoholics, and perhaps they would have been even finer writers if they’d kept clear heads.
And there are other pitfalls, besides alcohol, to the drinker/writer.
My own penchant for hot-chocolate was problematic for a couple of years (let’s call them the 13 stone years). But it’s certainly true that, when you write, it’s comforting to have a warm cup of something by your side, something that allows you to sip and think (about, for example, whether the first word of this piece is grammatically correct). But choose carefully. To help you avoid the pitfalls that befell the likes of Thomas and King, I’ve devised a list of dos and don’ts for writers seeking lubrication.
Your beverage must be:
- Set at least a foot away from your computer keyboard (I’ve written off 3 laptops by spilling hot chocolate on them).
- Not too distractingly delicious (no caramel spiced lattes or pina coladas).
- Non fattening (you’ll be drinking it on a drip without really noticing).
- Not too caffeine-y (you won’t be able to understand your fevered jottings later)
- Non alcoholic (ideas suffer from beer-goggles too)
Which leaves: leaves.
Tea of any kind is, I think, safe.
You can keep your builder’s (aka English Breakfast) or any of the other muck with milk in it. I like mine with no frills – no milk, lemon or ice – luke warm and in a two gallon sized mug. Because it’s supposed to ward off death, my tea of choice is green, my current favourite being Jasmine Green from Teasup. It’s good stuff, made with green tea from the Guangxi province in China married with jasmine flowers. I enjoyed it, and despite failing miserably to follow the instructions about only boiling the kettle to 80 degrees and only leaving it to brew for 3 minutes (all my mugs have a brown crust), it was fragrant, delicate and (not too) delicious.
More importantly, it ticked all the boxes above, sitting quietly by my side, waiting for its moment to step in when I needed to find a word, or think of a clever way to finish a paragraph.
**breaks off to drink tea**