Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People believes that caffeine is a hindrance to his work day. Timothy Ferriss - Four Hour Work Week believes that getting all caffeinated up with Yerba Mate is what brings out his best writing. They were both right, but neither technique worked for me.
When I first read Steve's "How to Give Up Caffeine" article a few years ago, I tried his "no caffeine" technique. Steve's writing is so convincing that I thought it would work, but it only frustrated me.
"I can't ignore the energy boost and mental acceleration that comes from caffeine. But I do notice negative side effects when I drink coffee. Caffeine seems to make part of my brain overactive and another part underactive. I become really good at doing things, but very bad at prioritizing what needs to be done. If I drink a lot of coffee, I'll often spend hours doing a bunch of low priority tasks, and I find that other unproductive habits are more likely to be done excessively. "
- Steve Pavlina
Tim recently gave an interview to Problogger about his writing techniques.
"For actual writing, I found that identifying your peak periods in your circadian rhythm is key. Some big-name authors recommended I just sit in front of my computer every day from 8am to 6pm, and it was like living The Shining. Awful. My book only took off once I accepted that my best writing was done from 1-4am when I was highly caffeinated on yerba mate tea. The quality of my writing dropped miserably if I tried to do more than four hours per day."
- Tim Ferriss
Reading Tim's interview made me think back to when Charles Bukowski wrote a poem about his writing style. He needed a couple of good bottles of wine to really get his creative juices flowing. So I tried this same technique and failed miserably.
Now that I'm in my thirties, I understand that using someone else's technique doesn't work well. I thought that these experts knew how to get the written word down and if it worked for them then it should work for me.
I needed to find my own writing sweet spot. That's what this site is all about: finding that place within yourself that allows you to maximize your potential.
My writing sweet spot is from 9:30 am to 2:30pm with two cups of green tea in me. Any more tea and I get too jittery. Any more than five hours of writing and I get lazy.
Creating is different for everyone, so the next time you sit down to work, start noticing what works for you. Some soft Mozart or perhaps some Yerba Mata may put you in the right mind frame. If it doesn't work, then keep on tinkering until you find what fits your style. Eventually you'll find your rhythm and know how to tweak it depending on what mood you are in.