I'm a big fan of coffee from way back, long before I started writing books. I drink a fair amount of coffee every day while I'm writing, and believe it's a useful part of my process.
The downside of coffee is that too much can lead to jitters and being hyper, and once you're into that territory, you are (or at least I am) beyond useful writing for a while. It's important to balance coffee/caffeine intake with water (to stay hydrated) and food (so that caffeine is not the only fuel you are running on) while writing.
A few years ago, a movie
(and then a spinoff TV-show
) by the name of Limitless
came out. The shows focused on the use of a miracle drug that enhanced a down-and-out writer's abilities to focus and work and produce, not just in his writing, but in every facet of his life. The remarkable effects of the drug were offset by the cruel addiction and withdrawal cycle that users faced; including insanity and death if the supply was cut off.
I'm down with increasing focus and productivity, but like to keep my dangerous addictions entirely fictional, so I did some online reading and research, and found that there is an extensive body of knowledge to be found on the subject of nootropics (drugs, supplements, or other substances that improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals).
That research includes some powerful drugs and supplements designed to meet the needs of people with significant learning and function issues, and many of them have side-effects, contra-indications, and other significant drawbacks. Those did not appeal to me, so I kept looking.
I found two that did not have any notable drawbacks, are supported by scientific research as being effective for their stated goals, and wouldn't place me in harm's way through:
- dangerous or horrible interactions with meds I'm already taking
- drawing the attention of shadowy multi-national drug cartel assassins
The good news is that the first nootropic found by numerous studies to support focus and productivity is caffeine, which I am familiar with, and choose to administer in the form of coffee.
My preferred vehicle is a SmartPig, which consists of 10 ounces of French Roast, 2 ounces of espresso, 2 teaspoons of sugar in the raw, about an ounce of light cream, and a pinch of sea-salt.
The second nootropic of interest (to me) is L-Theanine, a compound found in green tea. It improves focus and calm and can reduce/smooth the jitters common to high levels of coffee consumption. The only problem with it (from my point of view) is that green tea tastes like hot grass-water. My solution to that problem is that I've added tablets containing a supplement of L-Theanine
to my morning meds on the days that I'm writing.
The studies I found supported the use of caffeine and L-Theanine individually, but more importantly together ... when administered together, they have a synergistic effect. They work together to improve cognitive function, attention, motivation, and task efficiency.
Besides the support available for this online, I can tell you anecdotally that it's true. Since adding L-Theanine to my routine, I find that my writing goes better, and that the coffee isn't as likely to get away from me if my hydration and food/fuel balance isn't perfect.
Some of the research that I found online in support of caffeine & L-Theanine taken together:
At the end of the day, you have to decide what works, and what doesn't, in your writing routine.
For years, I used coffee by itself to help me get "waked and wired" for my writing, and was able to write hundreds of thousands of words that way. Since finding L-Theanine, and adding it to my writing regimen, I feel as though my focus and creativity and motivation and productivity have increased.
There seems to be scientific research backing up my anecdotal evidence, and not much in terms of a downside to your at least trying it out.
Good luck in however, and whatever, you write!