What Floats Or Sinks Your Boat

We are going to keep this blessedly (or relatively) brief  today. Tomorrow, April 1, if all other things remain equal, I will mark twenty-one years of sobriety. I used to think that I couldn’t write unless I drank. I got a lot of typing done in those days but not much writing. Now I can’t write — or type or much of anything else — without coffee. I recently found a new brand of same called Revv Pulse which I liken unto mother’s milk.  I get a lot more writing done these days, for better or worse.

My question to you: what, if anything, do you use to kick start  the creative portion of your day? Coffee? Tea? A cigarette? Alcohol? Television? Radio? Music? How did you discover that it worked?
Before I go…if you are having trouble in your career and think that at least part of the problem might be due to alcohol abuse or addiction there is a questionnaire online that you might want to peruse. It can be found at alcoholism.about.com/od/tests/a/quiz_alcoholic.htm. It’s not a diagnosis tool, by any means; consider it a flashlight that you can use when you’re in the dark and trying to troubleshoot why the electricity isn’t working. If you need help, then consider checking out something like https://www.werecover.com/. Also: I’m happy to discuss my own experiences if it would be of any help to others. I can be reached at josephhartlaub at gmail dot com.

13 thoughts on “What Floats Or Sinks Your Boat

  1. Joe, great news about your sobriety. Some writers to think they write better on booze (it feels like it, I suppose) but it’s a route of diminishing returns.

    I love my morning cups of joe, but cut myself off around 10 or 11 a.m. Also use music, mainly soundtracks, to write to.

  2. Outstanding and Amen Joe. I have found that meaningful creativity pretty much stops after a couple drinks. When in writing mode abstinence is the best or if one must partake, moderation is the key. Shnockered writing is just a gateway to tons of extra editing and thrown away papers.

    And when narrating, well, lets just say that its really obvious if a narrator is being produced and directed by Mr. Jameson or Deacon Guinness.

    Homemade Chai Tea or strong French Roast is my creativity choice.

  3. We mark the date with you. That’s awesome.

    I have to have my 10-12 oz. of diet Dr Pepper in the morning much like most folks have to have their caffeine.

  4. Thanks for sharing your anniversary with us Joe. That’s the bomb.

    My best creative space is early morning, after sleep, with coffee and half-and-half.

    I like to write to soundtracks too, nothing with lyrics.

  5. Wow. 21 yrs. Awesome, Joe. The anniversary date of April 1st made me smile, but now I’ll always raise my coffee cup to you before I start my usual day of pranks.

    Like Jim, I’m a cuppa Joe gal & have a limit of 2 travel mugs. I write a couple of hours before I have breakfast with my sweet husband.

    Congratulations! I’m proud of you.

  6. Joe, Congratulations on your continued sobriety. Thanks for openly sharing and for the encouraging words to those who fight that fight daily.

  7. Congratulations on remaining sober! Being smoke free for 13 years now, I do understand the achievement. With each year that goes by, you can’t help but celebrate. I’m holding up a bottle of Sobe fruit punch flavored water. Cheers.

    What gets my creativity flowing? Experiencing a really horrible book.

  8. Congrats! Your sobriety is now a grown-up. The story of the intervention that pulled Stephen King back to the land of the living is gutting. He freely admits he doesn’t remember writing Cujo.

    I am a tea drinker. Leaded in the morn, decaf in the afternoon. Don’t smoke, never have and I possess the alcohol tolerance of a 12-year old girl.

    Now, jelly beans, on the other hand, is something I can’t even have in the house. But that hot mug of tea is what wakes up my brain in the morning and afternoon.


  9. James, Basil, BK, Wendy, Paula, Jordan, Richard, Diane, Terri…thank you so much. True friends are indispensable. And an addtional thanks to Joe M for some quiet assistance above and beyond the call of duty.

    James and Basil, I totally agree re: alcohol getting in the way of writing. Warren Zevon, who had his problems, was the subject of an intervention at which Ross McDonald was in attendance. McDonald, who had his own demons, told Zevon that alcohol didn’t help creativity; it just made garbage look like roses. Amen.

    Terri, you’re right! It’s an adult now :-). I love King’s story In ON WRITING about his own problems with drinking. The bottles of mouthwash hidden in the trash…I’ll carry that image with me to my grave.

    Diane, my short brim is tipped and off to you. I have shared stories with any number of alcoholics and to a person they each said that quitting smoking was much, much harder, and worse, than quitting drinking.

    BTW, Jordan, if you can limit yourself to one day of the year for pranks, your will power is greater than mine. Someday we’ll have to trade prank stories.

    Again…thank you…thank you…you all are the best.

  10. Wow, Joe. Congratulations. I can’t imagine the pride you must feel to celebrate such a feat. It takes a rare and courageous soul to face an addiction like alcohol and beat it. I wonder if I could be so brave? I’m headed to check out the questionnaire.

    BTW–I could chew the leg off a table if I don’t have my two cups of black English tea in the morning. That and New Age music–which seems to open my creative vaults.

    Thank you for sharing your news. You rock, Sir!

  11. Thanks so much, Kathleen. I have to say, though, it’s not pride I feel but the relief of having dodged the bullets that I used to throw myself in front of.

    Re: that English tea…I have a bud who is a British cabbie, one of the nicest folks you would ever want to meet. When he is stateside, he insists on preparing and serving me a cup of Earl Grey at 4:00 PM. If you ever get the chance, have those cups in the morning prepared and presented by an English gentleman. It will increase your enjoyment tenfold.

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