When Tea Just Won’t Do

I won’t beat around the bush and say it straight away: I’m not a coffee person. I’m a tea person but not in the modern experimenting, exotic teas of various type and origin person. I’m a boring old-fashioned tea drinker who, given the choice, would drink Assam every day because she recently overdosed on Darjeeling and is taking a break. Boring, I told you. But sometimes tea won’t do, and it pains me to say this.

I woke up late today, an hour later than I was supposed to. You know that trick your brain does, when you hear your alarm, turn it off, think “Five more minutes” (it’s always five more minutes) and wake up with a start an hour later. Yeah, that’s exactly what happened to me.  And it happened to happen on my busiest day of the week, which is of course why I’m now writing a blog post to complain about it instead of getting down to business.

Tea or no tea, whenever I oversleep I need a quick fix and this quick fix is, naturally, coffee. I like the smell of coffee, always have. The taste, well, is generally, meh, but like I said: tea person here. What coffee is good for is a quick transformation from a half asleep collection of biological materials still wondering what exactly was that thing she dreamt about right before her phone started playing Espiritu del Aire  to an almost fully functional intelligent being. Coffee, in other words, gives me a high, which lasts until the afternoon, which is just about enough. Yet there are side effects.

To a regular coffee drinker, their cup or two, or three are just part of everyday life. On me, coffee has an effect quite similar to that of a certain white and powdery illegal substance, which I have tried, yes, for the sake of experience and research purposes. Everything’s brighter and noisier (that latter part’s a minus but what can you do), and I’m firing on all cylinders and actually feel like a machine in many ways.

On coffee*, I write faster — and make more and funnier typos — and I think faster. I also make more jokes. I don’t know why this is but there it is. I’ve got two Skype chats to keep me company during worktime and I’ve now began warning the participants when I’ve had coffee in the morning. It pays to be prepared because I just can’t stop talking (writing) when I’m on coffee. But besides these amusing effects, coffee can also be motivating as part of a writing routine.

When I read the 50 shades trilogy I was so stunned I told myself I could write a better porn. Pretty much anyone literate could write a better porn, I thought. So I made a bet with myself that I’d do it. It was early October and I got to work the next day. For some reason, coffee seemed appropriate for this particular writing endeavour, so I had coffee every morning while I wrote. This went on for two months: plan a scene in bed, after the alarm, to avoid falling asleep again, get up, make coffee, write.

Sometimes a change in your normal routine could do wonders for concentration and productivity, I learned then. By the way, writing porn turned out to be a lot harder than I thought (not that this is an excuse for bad lit porn). Writing a sex scene is basically like shooting a softporn movie in your head, only you get to pick the participants, so there are no unpleasant aesthetic surprises. The rest is hard work, occasionally involving groans of frustration. But I did it — complete with a happy ending — and coffee helped. Tea would simply not do then and it wouldn’t do today when I have about five thousand words to write and none of it is fiction. I overslept well into my fiction-writing time. But I’ll plan a story in the afternoon, just as the caffeine high starts to wear off.

*I realise this sounds like “On amphetamines”, yes.

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