A truly indissoluble bound: writers and coffee–and what it means for literature

The link between writers and coffee has a long standing tradition. As detailed in Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, many among the most famous and accomplished writers in the world drink coffee, or used to, to fuel their creativity. Søren Kierkegaard, Voltaire, L. Frank Baum, Margaret Atwood, Honoré de Balzac. This is just a handful of names. The list could go on practically forever. Legend has it that Honoré De Balzac drank as much as 50 cups of coffee a day. Instead, Søren Kierkegaard used to pour into his coffee a staggering amount of sugar. This wasn’t exactly the most healthy of the eating habits. But, apparently, that sugar rush sharpened the philosopher’s mind beyond belief. However, when we stop a second and consider how writers have always been particularly susceptible to addictions of one kind or another, this reliance of theirs on coffee looks far from unexpected. After all caffeine offers…

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A writer’s hobbies and interests

I love reading and writing. Actually, some books, I’m so glad I’ve read them I consider myself a lucky person. Just for that. However, no matter how deep my love for reading and writing is, I could never sit at my desk for hours and hours every single day. And keep on reading and writing. Fact is, after a while I’ve been sitting my legs need, or rather reclaim, their share of activity. I get restless. My mind begins to wander. And I either find myself rereading whole passages I’ve already read while zoning out on a sort of autopilot, or rewriting passages I’ve written under the arcane spell of the same atrocious autopilot. Because, if it’s true that practice makes perfect, it has to be of the right kind.

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Signs you are a writer – what is true and what is not

Surfing the web you can come across a zillion of posts listing the telltale signs you are a writer. These posts can be entertaining, no doubt about that. But they’re often based on myths, stereotypes, and little more. For example don’t worry if you didn’t start reading and writing before other children of your age. Or if your spelling abilities are still next to non existent. Many great writers have managed to succeed despite these problems, and some others way more difficult as well. Just think of W. B. Yeats and Jeanne Betancourt who had to work around their dyslexia. Think also of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor-in-chief of French Elle, who found himself paralyzed apart from one eye as a result of a catastrophic stroke. And yet managed to write a touching book — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

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Procrastination for writers – the urge to write and the high place phenomenon

To be a true writer you have to do just one thing. Yep, you guessed it right. You’ve got to write. You’ve got to write (almost) every day. If you write, you are a writer. Even if you never publish anything, or your marketing efforts are practically non existent, like in my case — but I promise I’m going to change that. The fact is, as a writer you should feel the urge to write. That almost physical necessity to give shape to your thoughts and feelings, arranging and rearranging words into ever new tapestries—no, I haven’t said travesties. It doesn’t matter if you also experience resistance, and have to fight a daily battle with procrastination. Writers are known to be quite eccentric, to say the least. So, if you have the desire to write, and your head is full of ideas, and yet you find yourself striving to sit…

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Invaluable advice for writers: know yourself

It never ceases to amuse me the way we have to be reminded over and over again of things we should have already learned a long time ago. For example, there’s no doubt that the ancient Delphic maxim Know thyself—know yourself–holds true today as it did when it was first uttered. Indeed, there’s no doubt at all. And such a maxim holds true for everyone, writers included. In fact, if you know yourself you can avoid a lot of stress and useless worrying about your career as an independent writer. Just think of it. If you spend some quality time thinking hard about what makes you happy, what your values are, what is your definition of success, how hard you’re willing to work to attain certain goals, and so on, you can build your personal road map from here to whatever destination in life you choose. Besides, having chosen and…

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Rereading books – the art of change

A couple of nights ago I was sitting on the porch at my friend’s place. The sun was gone, just like the wine we had been drinking. So, with that particular predisposition of the soul that most often comes when the right amount of food and booze and stimulating company all happen together, we started chatting about books and writing. My friend isn’t a writer. And he isn’t planning on becoming one any time soon. Indeed, he is perfectly content with being a voracious reader. And of having the opportunity to chat, as often as possible, about books and the inner mechanics of a story. Now, while we decided whether or not to help ourselves with a last glass of wine–it was a damn fine Rosso di Montalcino we were enjoying–we ended up chatting about books we had reread and found dramatically different from the first time around. For me,…

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Where do good ideas come from? Myths about creativity and the creative process

When it comes to human relationships, and the most effective ways to improve them, a large number of people resort to self-help books . It’s reasonable. In fact, given the hectic times we live in, most of these people hope to find some quick and dirty tricks. Something to solve their problems with a minimal amount of time and effort on their part. Unfortunately, the truth is that such tricks rarely solve anything at all. Just think about it for a moment. Many self-help books tell us to smile and repeat over and over again the name of the people we’re talking with. These books also suggest that we ask the people we’re talking with about their jobs and hobbies. These I just mentioned, are just some of the most banal examples. However if we follow these suggestions in a mechanical and opportunistic way the people we are interacting with will soon realize…

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