Please welcome Elizabeth Delisi to my Blog! Not only are we going to be treated to a blog from her but I'm also uploading my review of her collection of short stories - The Midnight Zone. We're cross blogging today so I'll be appearing as a guest on Elizabeth's blog!
The Effect of Coffee and Walking on Writing - Elizabeth Delisi
There are a few things one needs to be a writer. First and foremost is a story to tell, and an unquenchable desire to tell it. Without the story, without the drive, nothing else matters.
A writer needs to be a diversified reader, soaking up whatever is available. It’s all grist for the mill. Yet the majority of the reading should be in the genre the writer writes in. This is the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t in the chosen genre.
Also necessary is a good grasp of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. And no, spell-check isn’t an adequate substitute for knowing how to punctuate dialogue, where the comma goes, or how to spell “judgment” or “judgement,” depending on your country.
Useful but less indispensable is an office with a computer, desk, printer, and any reference materials desired. A designated office is lovely to have, but a corner of the kitchen or bedroom works just as well.
There are two more items that many writers swear by. They may not be strictly necessary, but writers who make use of them will swear otherwise.
The first of the two is coffee. You knew this was coming, right? Coffee serves several purposes in a writer’s life. First and foremost, coffee and the caffeine jolt it offers help the writer go from the dreamy, disconnected early morning state to the rapid-thinking creative zone where good writing happens. Second, pausing for a sip or getting up to refill the pot gives a legitimate excuse for a much-needed break. And third, coffee gives you a boatload of energy for washing the kitchen floor or folding the laundry when taking a guilty time-out from writing. In the hare versus the tortoise story, an author on coffee is the hare—speed is everything.
The second item is, believe it or not, walking. Walking helps with everything coffee does, but with different results. Taking an early morning walk wakes up the writer’s mind without inducing the zippy, highly caffeinated state of coffee. Sometimes all that’s needed to get over a tricky spot in the prose is a quick walk up and down the stairs or around the kitchen. Walking also serves as its own excuse for taking a break…after all, walking is healthy, right? An author on walking is the tortoise, slow and steady.
In my unscientific, subjective opinion, you can tell when a writer is on coffee, and when he’s on walks. See what you think.
From “Killing Bernstein” by Harlan Ellison
I was, on the spot, in an instant, a pariah.
I was the despoiler of the children’s crusade.
I was the lurking child molester.
I was the lizard piper of Hamelin.
I was, with the good offices of Netta Bernstein, at the end of an auspicious career with the MyToy Corporation.
What do you think? Coffee or walking?
Try this one.
From “The Taking” by Dean Koontz:
In the tides of the storm, the luminous windows of Harry’s house seemed like the running lights of a distant vessel on a rolling sea: one of those fabled ghost ships, abandoned by passengers and crew, yet with lifeboats still secured. Untouched dinners would be found on plates in the crew’s mess. In the wheelhouse, the captain’s favorite pipe, warm with smoldering tobacco, would await discovery on the chart table.
Walking or coffee?
This is just a little game I play when I need a mental break. You can do the same. Maybe you’ll decide your favorite writer use coffee, or walking. Or perhaps you’ll decide a particular writer goes with chocolate…or rap music…or heavily scented candles. It’s up to you. What do you think?
The Midnight Zone