Monday, June 20, 2011

The Writing Process Demystified #2: Oral Fixation

Ever notice that a high percentage of writers are addicted to coffee? Why do you think that is?


It’s because we keep stupid hours and because of other things.

Oh wait, you wanted me to talk about those other things didn’t you? Well it’s embarrassing, but I will admit the whole reason I got into coffee was because all the kids at the poetry slam were doing it.

Yes. I did say cool kids and poetry slam in the same sentence. What? You don’t think POETRY SLAMS ARE COOL?

Anyway, I used to hate coffee. At least the taste of it. It took me years, but then I was queen of the Starbucks, and eventually could even stomach my home brew. Sometimes while the glorious scent of my first (or seventh) pot of coffee is drifting through the air I think, “Why have I chosen this life?” Then I realized, I never really had a choice at all.

Before coffee, I’ll call that my dark ages, I still used to write. I still used to complete books on my frantic, inhumane, schedule. But something was different, it was my mouth!

What did I do with my mouth when it wasn’t drinking French roast?

I chewed pen caps! Really. I don’t actually recommend this, and the whole reason I brought it up was because I wanted to warn you!

Remember last week when we talked about REM for your writing? I said you could trick yourself into writing by always doing the same thing when you start over and over? They say it takes 2 weeks for things to become habit, pay close attention to what bad ones you may pick up. Many writers have some type of oral fixation, and contrary to popular belief it’s not because we are all insane…. I mean that might be true but it doesn’t explain the mouth thing. The mouth thing is because it’s comforting.

Writing does all sorts of things to your mental health, and not all of them good. Pay attention to your mouth next time you write. It will make climb the walls at first, so you might have to forget all about this blog later. But that’s OK because next Sunday is the third installment of THE WRITING PROCESS DYMYSTIFIED


ali cross said...

I think that's why I have a tendency to want small things in my mouth when I'm writing. That sounds weird. :P You know, Mike 'n Ikes, Sour Patch, whatever. It's not the CANDY really. It's the doing something with my mouth, while I'm concentrating. Like chewing on that pen cap, or your lip or ... whatever.

Maybe I need to get some nice polished stones and suck on those, lol.

Hayley said...

The taste of coffee still hasn't grown on me...but I might force it one of these days. Right now I get all my caffeine from soda and chai tea lattes, which are both great, but the sugar drives me insane sometimes.

But I know exactly what you mean. Personally, I bite my nails when I'm pondering something (ugh! need to stop that!) and I have been known to destroy a pen or two.

Guess we writers are just prone to awful habits :)

Angela Kulig said...

Ali you know what I use if I am not lovely hot coffee? I mean besides cold coffee that has been sitting on my desk too long-- M&M's or tic tacs I def feel you!

Hayley I do NOT recommend a caffine addiction, you so can't blame me for yours later.

And yes being a writer= is a life of bad habits.

Patricia JL said...

Hmm, I wonder if I'm the only writer in the world that doesn't like coffee and refuses to adjust my palate to it. I don't really do anything with my mouth either. Sometimes I eat lunch and write or munch on snacks but I don't think I have any oral fixations... Just a mt dew addiction that I control very well.

S.P. Sipal said...

Reading this as I guiltily sit here eating sunflower seeds! At least they're in the shell, so I have to work at it. And for me, it's not coffee, but tea (my husband is Turkish, after all :-)

I think we have these oral fixations because of serotonin. I've heard chewing on things, like twisting your hair or jiggling your leg, repetitive motion, helps release serotonin. And being highly sensitive people, we tend to either be low in it, or need more of it.

Angela Kulig said...

I like tea too! I drink that often when writing as well, but when I really NEED to buckle down it's coffee.

Patty I refuse to believe you don't have an oral fixation, just think about it while writing I bet you chew your lip or cheek or do something you don't even think about anymore ;)

Patricia JL said...

HAHA! Angela, still want to me record myself so you can point and say "AHA! You do this. Victory is mine!" ;)

Angela Kulig said...

Yes, but that wont me nessisary. Victory was already mine ;)