6 Reasons Coffee Might Make You a Better Writer (and 3 reasons it might not)

“Caffeine helps stimulate creativity as it speeds up the body’s functioning. That’s why coffee is often associated with writers and other intellectual professions. Other drugs tend to make people dumber. Consider what happens when people get high off of crack or when they get drunk off of alcohol. They won’t be functional at all. But with coffee, an individual gets a creative boost while still helping their bodies.” True quote from: http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Coffee-Does-to-Your-Health&id=1708085

Can coffee make you a better writer? I think so. Yesterday, I decided to try and make it through a whole day without coffee. (I’d like to say it was because I was testing my theory for today’s blog—but it was really because we ran out.)

And I was lazy. Maybe because I didn’t have any coffee. Studies have shown that coffee perks you up. Duh. And, if you’re like the average American, you drink 416 eight-ounce cups of coffee a year. But, if you’re like me, you’re closer to batting a thousand.

But this blog is not about coffee consumption statistics. The question is: can coffee make you a better writer? This is the question I researched yesterday when I was too tired to write…which brings me to the first of six reasons coffee can make you a better writer.

1. Coffee keeps you awake. Perhaps the most necessary condition for writing is actually being awake…so you can have the ol’ butt in the chair time. Researchers have found that caffeine blocks a brain chemical (adenosine) that prompts feelings of drowsiness. This was discovered by giving rats a caffeine-like substance. When caffeine thwarts adenosine, go-to-sleep signals get derailed until caffeine’s effect wears off. (I don’t know about rats, but I’m pretty sure writers would prefer a latte.)

2. Coffee may help preserve your memory. Research showed that caffeine in three daily cups of coffee helped older women have better memories. (That is, preserve memories. Nothing except a life well lived can help you have better memories.) Nonetheless, remembering things—a very helpful thing for a writer to be able to do. (By the way, the most important thing I learned from this study was that I did not qualify as an older woman. WOOHOO!)

3. Coffee perks you up mentally. Austrian researchers found through conducting brain scans that caffeine stimulates areas of the brain governing attention. This means that you might actually better understand what you’re writing or come up with new and exciting ideas. The caffeine in just two cups of coffee showed increased activity in the anterior cingulum that controls attention. (I can’t think of one funny thing to add to this.)

4. Caffeine can help energize you and keep you focused on boring and repetitive tasks, even when you’re well rested. If you do any kind of business or technical writing, like I do, there may be times that you’re bored or doing repetitive tasks or repeating yourself or you get bored (especially if you work on technical or detail-oriented projects).

5. Coffee makes you more cheerful, so you’ll have a better attitude about your writing! A study from Brazil shows that people who drink coffee every day are less likely to suffer from depression. In fact, caffeine is generally considered the world’s most popular mood-enhancing drug. Therefore, if you write really depressing things, I suggest you drink something else, say Bourbon, so your writing isn’t too upbeat. (Or, drink way too much coffee, which has been shown to wreck your disposition.)

6. Coffee is good for pretty much everything, ergo it must be good for writing! Harris Lieberman, a research psychologist at the Military Nutrition Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, says: “When you’re sleep-deprived and you take caffeine, pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning—most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence….”

Finally, here are those three things (from a writer’s non-medical point of view) that could be downsides of drinking coffee:

1. There can be too much of a good thing. Too much coffee can make you jittery or make it hard for you to sleep. And we all know that if you’re sleep deprived, you can’t think as well, and if you can’t think, you probably can’t write either.

2. If you take too many coffee breaks, you might never get any writing done. If you’re like me, and you go into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, you might get distracted by other things to do. And if you meet a friend for a coffee break, forget about it…

3. You may need to use the bathroom more often—since coffee is a mild diuretic—so if you really need to get a lot of writing done in one day, then make sure you balance your coffee intake with the output necessity. Or get a “pilot’s friend.”

Off for my second cup….



p.s. No offense to tea drinkers meant. For most of these studies, they did say that tea/coffee were interchangeable, some were not. Are you a coffee drinker? Tea? How much coffee or tea do you drink? Do you think it helps or hurts your writing? Or has no effect?


  1. Jillicious says:

    I love this because I ate tiramisu late in the afteroon earlier this week and I was up until past midnight, catching up on work. It was awesome!!

  2. That’s awesome that it kept you up to catch up on the work (but hope next time it’s for fun!). Yay coffee especially with tiramisu!

  3. Ado says:

    Coffee stimulates my bitchiness.
    I drink it every day. (!)

  4. Haha; I wasn’t aware of *that* affect or I could’ve included it in the blog! Thanks for the comment! :)