Coffee and Writing: A Love Affair

By Milli Thornton

I WAS OVER on @Wordstrumpet‘s blog (don’t you just love that Twitter handle?!) reading a post called You Can Do It! when I had an aha moment.

Charlotte Rains Dixon was talking about her habits of procrastination after promising herself a writing session. And about what works best for her to get motivated to just GET STARTED. You know . . . that crazy cycle where you forget how enjoyable the writing is until you force yourself to just start? And then you wonder why you put it off?

At the end of her post Charlotte posed the question: “Do motivational phrases and ideas encourage you or annoy you?” Nothing was coming to mind as a general rule, so I decided to think about my specific situation right then.

I wrote this in Charlotte’s comments section:

I’m procrastinating right this very minute about starting a writing session. I know why I’m procrastinating this time. Because it’s going to be some journaling. And it’s going to delve into a painful place.

So, what would motivate me to get started? LOL! A cappuccino made with freshly-ground coffee beans. That never fails. A good cup of coffee always calls for either good conversation, a good book, or some writing.

Coffee and journaling

All the right tools for journaling

And that’s what I did. I went straight to the kitchen and made a cappuccino on our Krups machine using freshly-ground beans.

Then I sat down and journaled, but it wasn’t painful like I assumed it would be. Not because of the caffeine hit this time—though there’s nothing better than the cosmically-inspired feeling I get from drinking espresso—but because GETTING STARTED led me down an unexpected trail.

Instead of venting about the old wound that had surfaced in a dream the night before, the names of my godparents flashed into my mind. I wrote a letter asking for their help, even though they’re long dead. I know that godparents make a promise to look after their charges spiritually (right? isn’t that the tradition?) so I figured they would still want to help me, even from the spirit world.

If I hadn’t read You Can Do It! (thank you, Charlotte!) and thus identified my 100% surefire way to get started writing, I might have missed that special experience. So this is an ode to coffee.

Coffee, my loyal writing companion who never gives me writer’s block, only erases it; who never critiques my writing, only helps it flow; who fills me with the nectar of inspiration and provides me with coffeehouse adventures too.

Krups espresso machine

Our old faithful Krups, having just produced another breve

This is also an ode to our old faithful Krups machine. We bought this Krups five-and-a-half years ago for five bucks at a garage sale. What a bargain. We do fantasize about having a proper, expensive (hopefully Italian) espresso machine. But until the day we’re rolling in bank vaults of coffee money—visualize Scrooge McDuck’s nephews all grown up and addicted to espresso—you can’t beat this old workhorse when it comes to producing a consistently good cup.

One side of the Krups is for making espresso and the other side is for brewed coffee, which I never drink. I have never enjoyed the taste of brewed coffee. My preference is the breve, which is a latte made with half-and-half. Brian and I just call them cappuccinos because it sounds more romantic.

(@writeouschick, @Zumbalicious_, I hope I’m making you both smile real big by now!)

I also cherish our pair of red “feng shui” coffee mugs. I have no idea what the Chinese character embossed in gold foil on the side means, so I just think of it as good writing feng shui.

What’s your coffee and writing love story?

Milli Thornton, Fear of Writing Blog | Fear of Writing Online Course

Milli Thornton


Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of Unleash Your Writing! and the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli also blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers at Writer’s Muse.

12 Responses to Coffee and Writing: A Love Affair
  1. Carole
    Twitter: cjtreggett
    June 5, 2012 | 9:34 AM

    Oh-ho…Scrooge McDuck’s nephews all grown up and addicted to espresso!Love it LOL.

    I think I respect you all the more because I assumed all this time your espresso machine was a ‘fancy schmancy’ expensive gizmo. Well, I guess it was back in its heyday. Be still my beating,frugal heart – you found yours for a song at a garage sale!:)

    I’ve had a few romantic experiences with my writing in a favorite coffee shop in town as I sit there with my journal or laptop sipping a frothy cappuccino,always surprised how productive and focused I can be there. So if I find myself procrastinating on a given day, I pack my gear up and head out either to this coffee shop or, if it’s a nice day, to a favorite spot by the river.

    For the most part, I make do each morning with two cups of regularly brewed coffee(to give me a proper jolt to get me where no writer has gone before without getting out of my pajamas).

    Thanks so much for yet another wonderful post, Milli. By the way, I love Charlotte and the amazing content she provides on her blog too!

  2. Julia Munroe Martin
    Twitter: wordsxo
    June 5, 2012 | 10:21 AM

    Believe it or not, we gave up coffee — stopped drinking it cold-turkey about six weeks ago. A long story, but the short version: I was having trouble sleeping at night, our son in medical school gave us some enlightening information, enough said. And boy have I missed the routines you’re talking about. I miss it as my daily companion and it definitely has changed how I approach (or don’t) approach writing. (p.s. that said, I do occasionally have a cup — like this morning — and then I really am disrupted from my NEW daily routine…)

  3. Marilyn
    June 5, 2012 | 10:32 AM

    Milli, I love this post. Five bucks for a Krups is a steal at any age. I too thought you had a big fancy machine. It’s the little things in life right?

    I guess I need more romance in my life. I can’t recall such an engaging experience writing. So now you have inspired me to look for ways to just be with my writing and enjoy my surroundings whilst sipping a cuppajoe. Well yes that is most appealing.

    I however without a laptop should take it down a notch and try the old fashion way, journaling. (come on, isn’t that a word?) And what an inspiration your journal books are? Beautiful! Gotta get me some so I can sit in a park setting or on the patio and get down with the true grit of writing! I love it!

    Also love you reaching out to your God Parents and you can’t do too much Feng Shui. Might just add a nice soy candle to the mix.

    Thanks again for inspiring me as you always do.

  4. Annie Neugebauer
    Twitter: AnnieNeugebauer
    June 5, 2012 | 12:02 PM

    This just made me so thirsty for coffee! =D I drink regular coffee with sugar and cream, and it’s hard to remember what my writing life was like before I learned to like it. Now it’s part of my ritual. When I sit down with a warm mug, a certain part of my brain just turns on. Got to love it!

  5. Estrella Azul
    June 5, 2012 | 4:56 PM

    Loved this post, not necessarily because of the espresso-love, but because of the advice. Identifying what is keeping us from writing is such a good thing. I know that happened to me just last month when I e-mailed you 🙂

    I don’t really like coffee. My mom drinks it every single morning, and I do too, sometimes, when my head hurts too much and I want to elevate my blood pressure a bit.
    I did start taking a liking to half and half with caramel ice-cream topping though 😉

  6. Robin
    Twitter: Zumbalicious_
    June 5, 2012 | 6:34 PM

    I enjoyed this post, and the images are just perfect, Milli! I’ve always enjoyed journaling but am out of the habit now. (I will have to photograph my old/ reusable leather journal for you.)

    Have you tried to do Julia Cameron’s “morning pages”? Quickly writing 3 pages first thing, to clear away cobwebs, is a good way to free energy for other writing projects. And it’s the perfect time for an espresso too!! 🙂

  7. Meg Sweeney
    June 5, 2012 | 8:42 PM

    Wonderful Post – and spurred me on to write, and drink a cup of ol’ joe.
    The Ode to Coffee is hysterical. To coffee – your “loyal companion.” Sweeet!

  8. Charlotte Rains Dixon
    Twitter: wordstrumpet
    June 6, 2012 | 12:57 PM

    There’s something to be said for a good cup of coffee, isn’t there? I always drink a cup in the morning, try not to in the afternoons. But on the days I do, I get more done, there’s no doubt about it. Love the stuff!

  9. j
    June 6, 2012 | 4:23 PM

    I have a sticky note above my computer that says, “Just Start.” Funny how I can’t just remember that as the cure.

    (And coffee doesn’t hurt either.)

  10. Melissa Crytzer Fry
    June 6, 2012 | 11:36 PM

    What a good point that “getting started” is the hardest part. But once you do… look out! I’m always amazed at what a difference a few minutes can make – those minutes between procrastination and simply “getting started.”

    Believe it or not, I have never tried coffee for the sheer fact that I KNOW I will like it. I have enough vices in the sugar/cake/candy/chocolate range, I figure I don’t need another :-). But so glad it works for you. You’ve written of its virtues so convincingly that I really want a cappuccino now… or maybe cappuccino ice cream!

  11. Lois
    June 7, 2012 | 3:19 PM

    I love breves, but I don’t have them often–especially since I’m trying to lose weight. But maybe I’ll buy some Half-and-Half this weekend to reward myself for finishing my new character’s character sheet. 😉

    For me, the best way to stop procrastinating is to just sit down at my computer and jump right in. I can’t let e-mail or anything else distract me, though. That’s the hard part!


  12. Dana Pittman
    Twitter: danapittman
    June 7, 2012 | 7:22 PM

    I started connecting the two (coffee and writing) to get over my dread of the blinking cursor. Urgh…

    I usually wrap my hands around a warm cup of coffee and sit before my computer. I allow the warmth of the porcelain cup comfort me as I deal with the blinking cursor.

    I place the cup on my handmade crocheted coaster. I rub my hands on my pants to rid me of any moisture then I put in the work.

    It’s not easy. It’s not fail proof. But it is tasty. 🙂

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