Heh heh, surprise surprise! I’m a huge fan of food. C.S. Lewis once said that walking and talking are two great pleasures but cannot be combined, but eating and reading are two even greater pleasures that are better when combined. Truer words were never spoken, and I never forgot the old times of my youth where I’d curl up in bed with a Narnia book and a few over-buttered and over-salted baked potatoes. Good times.
There are actually a few foods out there that can improve your writing, and all in different ways. Some benefit your brain power. Some just make you happier. Some help you recreate a scene from one of your books. Some just keep you alive for those long writing sessions. Sometimes the extra sugar keeps you alive just long enough to get those precious chapters finished before you get trundled off to the hospital.
Without further ado…here are my top four foods to help increase proficiency, promote happiness, and increase longevity in your writing projects!
#4: Foods that energize you – Energy Drinks, Fruit, and Shredded Mini Wheats
Usually eaten in the morning, they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the say (which is why they eat it in the morning, dummy). A good breakfast can give you a good boost of energy that can start you on your day of writing. If you work or go to school in the mornings, you can also consume energizing foods before an intense writing session.
Anything sugary enough to made into dessert will do here if you want a boost of energy. Just avoid cake and cookies. Opt instead for fruits and energy drinks. I’m no fan of monster energy, energy drinks have B vitamins in them, giving you a pretty robust dosage of energy.
Anything with fiber (like shredded mini wheats) can give you long-lasting energy, akin more to coal than straw (if your creative engine was a literal machine). Consuming anything with fiber will give you several hours of energy, but of a less explosive kind than the one born of calories. So if you need energy in the short term, break out the fruit medleys. Have a bowl of fiber if you need it all day and you’re more concerned about your health (my, have you lost weight?).
#3: Foods that boost brainpower – Nuts, Assorted Berries, Seafood
Scientifically proven to boost brain function and clarify thought processes, these foods actually make you smarter. Don’t have a problem with getting motivated? Maybe you’re stuck on how to fix a certain plot hole. Maybe you can’t concentrate on what the hero’s girlfriend looks like. Well, head over to your local gas station, ’cause assorted nuts are on the list.
This list includes nuts (peanuts, cashews or otherwise), many kinds of berries (especially blueberries) and seafood, particularly fish. Many of us can’t manage a fish meal for breakfast (a quality fish meal, not B-rated fish sticks), but maybe if you’ve got a berry bush in your backyard, you’re in business.
For some reason, non-berry fruits don’t improve your brainpower much with the exception of one: the apple. If you decided to make a quick dish of yogurt, granola, and raspberries sprinkled on top, you’d have a double whammy.
#2: Foods that make you happy – Cheeseburgers, Pizza, Steak Fries
Nothing special here. Just straight-up, unadulterated, pure comfort food. Be it sweet or greasy, sour or salty, cold or hot, wet or dry–pick a food that makes you feel like you’re at home in the deepest dungeon, makes you feel safe while you’re in a foxhole in the midst of a battle, or makes you feel loved in the midst of a boring business meeting.
I’m a man of simple taste. I prefer my pizza thin-crusted and loaded with toppings (particularly meat), I like three pieces of cheese and extra bacon on my burgers, and I like potatoes prepared in any way imaginable. Au gratin, baked, mashed, microwaved, fried, you name it.
I hear folks out West enjoy refried beans. Southern peeps like grits (usually, I know I do) People of every tribe and nation appreciate beans and wieners. And let’s not even mention the sin of turning down a plate of biscuits and gravy. There’s a reason why there’s a holiday dedicated to eating as much food as you could possibly eat.
The explanation is simple: comfort food happifies people. (I believe I coined that term) Happy people are more willing to write, and write faster with greater quality. Never mind your waistline! Grab that pizza! There’s writing to be done!
#1: Foods that help you roleplay – Tomatoes, Sausages, Nice, Crispy Bacon
Picture the scene.
Your characters are sitting around the fire. They’ve killed a wild Mumoi (local deerlike wildlife) and are roasting it slowly over the fire. One of the characters has found a local herb, a spicy one. It may improve the flavor, she says. She mashes it in a stone bowl and rubs it into the Mumoi flesh, which is still cooking.
One of the other characters, a dwarf, suggests that they utilize the last of their fruit preserves in an attempt to improve the cookery. Everyone agrees. Someone produces a box of salt, for a slight pinch of savor. Altogether, they have a very good meal. After dinner, they sit back to discuss their plans.
Aw, crap! Just at this time, you have received a sizable bout of Writer’s block. You are paralyzed, staring at the emptiness of another blank page. Suddenly, you smile. You grab your keys, hop into your car, jam the keys in the ignition, and head off to the seedier parts of town to find a chunk of venison. Maybe you grab your gun if it’s in-season.
Either way, experiencing what your characters experience helps you immerse yourself in the story. Immersing yourself in the story will improve the way you write it. Who knows? Maybe Lewis was chewing on a bear-meat-wrapped apple while writing Prince Caspian.
Good luck (with cooking), and happy writing (and eating)!
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!