Ah, The Zone! My favorite haunt.
I'll tell you a secret: the most accessible portal is at the bottom of a teacup.
Let's not pretend any one of us would get anything done without caffeine. So, of course, tea is essential. And Club-Mate is another favorite of mine. Obviously, ice tea and hot mate would do as well. But I've never been a coffee cultist. While I rather enjoy the fumes of my colleagues' brew, the taste is simply too overwhelming. Like when something is too garlic-y.
Besides, tea and mate have great health and psychoactive benefits that coffee can't give you. In addition to fairly low levels of caffeine, tea contains fairly high levels of L-theanine, which helps to produce a more calm and lasting sort of high. It's believed to be so good for brain boosting and mood stabilizing that it's even sold in concentrated pill form. But there's no way a pill could give you the same aesthetic pleasure as brewing a fragrant London fog latte in a pretty cup. <3
Another easy, natural way to manipulate your mood and alertness is light. I prefer to have loads and loads of natural light, especially for reading. Lucky for me, I have huge windows at home as well as in the office hallway. On the other hand, when you really have to lower your creative inhibitions - in order to write the first draft of something, for example - an atmospheric gloom works, too. I've often thought about adding some candles and following Hemingway's advice to write drunk and edit sober, but I guess I haven't reached that level of desperation yet.
I wouldn't underestimate the power of romantization and aesthetization, though. Sometimes the only way to feel like you are really doing something is to do it like people do it in the books. So, if your mental prototype of writing is taking a yellowed notebook and a trusted fountain pen to a park or a shadowy pub, why not do just that? And wear a dapper scarf while you're at it?
Writing is a very holistic activity, and I'm a huge believer in analog methods: pen and paper simply have a very different feel to them than a keyboard. Sure, it's slower, but that often makes it easier to find the right words. I usually plan and brainstorm on paper and do the actual writing with a computer. But I get the notebook out again, if I hit a writer's block at any point.
So, to sum: having lots of inspiring notebooks for different purposes is hugely important!
|One for conference notes, one for literature notes, one for miscellaneous doodling, one for brainstorming, one for fleeting ideas...|
Inspiring, interesting postcards are great, too. In most projects, there's a phase when you will mostly stare at a wall. And it's much less depressing to stare at a decorated wall than a blank one. Cool, hand-picked pictures also make me feel more at home. They personalize the space, mark the territory, all that.
|That blanket cardigan (100% cotton) has also proved useful in every season!|
Finally, if silence is at short supply, good headphones are a must. Classical is always a good, neutral choice for background music, but I might just as well go for one of my many mood-tuned Spotify playlists. Especially, if I'm tired or bored. I've filled one playlist with particularly encouraging songs, like Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", Muse's "Uprising", Björk's "Army of Me" and Doom Unit's "Killing Time". But let's talk more about music in the next episode.