“My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.”
I took a creative writing class in undergrad. The professor had many great pieces of advice to offer bright-eyed young writers, but this one sticks in my mind the most: “As writers, you need to be addicted to either whiskey or coffee.” Truly, there is a long and illustrious literary tradition of drinking on the job.
But what is the right drink for the job? Whiskey and coffee are totally different libations, after all, and it follows that they will produce different results. (And mixing uppers and downers while working simply won’t do.)
So, what should you drink while writing? It depends on what you want to write.
An American Tradition
Are you working on the next great American novel? Well, then whiskey’s your guy. It was the poison of choice for Hemmingway and many an American novelist. If you’re going for a strong Americana vibe, make sure it’s real Kentucky bourbon.
Drinks for Long Nights
Prefer something caffeinated? Coffee is a classic choice for firing up the creative juices, and it’s perfect for editing your social media content, composing blogs, or taking your first stab at that sci-fi novel you’ve always wanted to write. It’s a particularly good option if you decide to take on National Novel Writing Month, but be warned, you may get the jitters somewhere around the 5,000th word.
If black tea is more your style, you may belong to a more academic persuasion, as nearly every scholar is a tea drinker (a fact backed by our editors with English degrees). C. S. Lewis, who taught at both Oxford and Cambridge, said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” Lewis notably wrote in just about every genre, from literary criticism to children’s fantasy, though he combined his work with a fair amount of beer. This is next-level drink usage and not recommended for beginners.
Herbal tea is not recommended for writers unless you aspire to high fantasy, which is obviously the only realm for people who can function without caffeine.
More Adult-Friendly Options
Wines generally aren’t very respected in the literary community, except in the romance and chick lit genres, or when combined with fine meats and cheeses. However, eating while writing is not recommended, because crumbs jam up the keyboard. Do not, under any circumstances, post online content while drinking wine.Herbal tea is not recommended for writers unless you aspire to high fantasy, which is obviously the only realm for people who can function without caffeine. Click To Tweet
Craft beer is recommended for next-level writers (Oprah’s Book Club or higher), though more novice writers may use it as the traditional celebratory drink of choice for meeting deadlines. Cheap beers (Coors Light and below) should be relegated to sports journalism writing and must not be imbibed at all during the editing stage.
Kombucha, smoothies, pressed juices, and sparkling water are great for digital content, as they usually rack up a fair amount of likes without the writer needing to caption anything.
Soda, with its high sugar content, is not recommended for writers, who are delicate and easily hyped up as it is.From the Writer's Guide to Drinking on the Job: Many drinks can inspire and fuel your prose, but beware. Soda, with its high sugar content, is not recommended for writers, who are delicate and easily hyped up as it is. Click To Tweet
On Potation and Prose
Many drinks can inspire and fuel your writing, and as with word processors and pens, selecting the right one for the job is essential to becoming a legitimate writer. Once you have become comfortable in your position as a writer and drinker, you will eventually be able to master the art of switching drinks even within a work, from effortlessly selecting sparkling wine during the big kiss scene you’ve been building up to for 200 pages, to picking the perfect lavender chamomile tea to ease your anxiety from trashing at least 150 of those pages. The goal is for your writing and drinking to perfectly align so you always have the right drink for the job.
As Hemmingway is sometimes credited as saying, “Write drunk, edit sober.” Well, depending on the genre, anyway.
If the largest lattes aren’t enough to rev up your ideas, our team of writers and editors can help. Contact the Scribe Source today.
About the Author
Karly is a writer and editor with a keen instinct for the way text should sound, no doubt a result of her daily consumption of everything from The New York Times to C. S. Lewis’s novels to her son’s Dr. Seuss books. She has been a part of the Scribe Source team since 2014.