On Caffeine, and Cutting It Out

I love coffee.

I also love tea, and I’m too fond for my own good of Diet Coke. As vices go, caffeine’s not so bad. Nonetheless, I haven’t had a drop since June 21st.

This is a change I’ve been thinking about making for a while. I was experiencing some really bad heartburn, and I’ve never been the best at sleeping. I figured cutting caffeine – especially coffee – would be helpful, and so I finally did it.

And, well…yeah.

I’m fine. Totally fine. Really, I’m completely good. Except…

I had no idea how essential caffeine was to my creative process!!

Y’all, I have had so much trouble writing anything good for the last month. Poems are a struggle, and I truly don’t know how I’m going to manage this month’s short story (which is coming this week, by the way!).

So, tell me, writer friends: How do you get yourself into a good writing headspace, especially if you’re also going without caffeine? I’ll take any advice. HELP. Please. And thank you!

(I’ve also cut out alcohol. But that’s been much easier. Which both surprises me and doesn’t surprise me at all.)

21 thoughts on “On Caffeine, and Cutting It Out

  1. I can’t write if I don’t drink coffee too. I even drink energy drinks to help usher in creativity. One way of conquering this might be reading for a few hours a day. Reading something deep and reflective. And perhaps trying tea. But I really don’t know.

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    • Reading is definitely a great way to generate new ideas and get the creativity flowing! I’ve been reading two books a week this year, and I can tell that it’s helping. Hopefully I adjust to the lack of caffeine, and I can get back to it.

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  2. Somewhere I read (years ago) that it takes 30 days to ingrain a new habit, so you have that going for you. I think it can be like many changes–it takes a while for your body to adjust. One of my colleagues who was an expert on addictions gave the best presentation once on how the brain gets wired to think “this might be necessary for my survival” and that it can take up to 6 months to reset that when one stops using substances–of which, of course caffeine is one. Perhaps not as damaging, but nonetheless, we can begin to think it is essential. My best advice would be ride through it. Your brain may think caffeine is essential to the writing process, but if you have the kind of talent and skill you have demonstrated thus far, I will predict you will begin to recoup your creative energy and process–and perhaps even discover it is better than ever. Like sleep, exercise, eating the kinds of foods that nourish us best, it is a process. Trust it, like you trust your self and those who support you and believe in you. Stay hydrated–water is your friend. 🙂

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    • I think it’s so easy to find yourself attached to caffeine specifically because it’s a substance and we don’t treat it like one. It’s certainly not as harmful as others, so I don’t mean to blow it out of proportion, but I’ve been sort of amazed at how much better I’m sleeping, and at how my heartburn has subsided really significantly. I know I will adjust, and hopefully the act of creating will get easier. But man, it’s tough in the meantime. Thank you so much for the kind words in this comment! I needed them today. 🙂

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  3. This is interesting. I recently learned in a course training for my job how caffeine can have certain affects in the brain regarding mental health, so I too have been trying to cut back. I think it is also in part the reason for my creative struggle with writing lately, which is why I’ve been leaning more on posting from the daily bread as a backup plan. I can’t even think about a poem now, lol but I wish you well and good luck with your writing my friend.

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  4. My daily writing practice would be difficult without my tea! I’m a tea connoisseur–never coffee (don’t like it) I drink black in the morning, green in the afternoon, and herbal in evening. Turns out there are many health benefits to drinking tea. The jury is out on coffee but lately I’ve read positive studies. I guess I’d make sure that it is the caffeine that is causing your heartburn. There are a lot of other causes and remedies. You can trick your brain by drinking decaf and herbal.

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    • I think the coffee is definitely a contributing factor, unfortunately. The heartburn has gotten a lot better since I stopped drinking it. Makes me sad. I love coffee. I’ve been sleeping better, too, which is nice.

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  5. Some people switch from coffee to matcha tea. For me, bitter black coffee plus dark chocolate is an addiction. I can deny myself almost everything in my daily diet, but coffee quit and chocolate I can’t imagine. Nevertheless, I wish you good luck. If you succeed, you will be an inspiration to many who dream of saying goodbye to this drink, but do not know how to do it.

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    • Oh my gosh, I could absolutely not give up chocolate. Or cheese. Or bread, for that matter. Coffee and caffeine generally have been tough, but mostly doable. And my heartburn is loads better, so it feels worth it.

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  6. It’s our brains that create the link between alcohol / caffeine and creativity. Creativity is part of our survival instinct. It is always there, it’s just as we age we cloud the link with adult anxieties. Look what happens when you give a child some paints, or throw some blocks on the floor and leave them to their own devices. I gave up caffeine about 15 years ago and alcohol over two years ago. It took a while to stop thinking they were catalysts for my creativity. As long as you try and keep to a regular writing routine you will break through the wall and find some other connections. Best of luck with it all, Katie, and thank you for the thought provoking post.

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