Some of the best writing has been created under the influence. While there are a lot of substances that can fuel good writing, coffee and beer are probably the top best choices for many. But, does one actually make you a better writer than the other?
According to science, both can be useful, in moderation of course. The specific stage of the writing process that you’re in dictates which beverage you should choose.
Coffee and beer’s effects begin in the brain’s cerebral cortex, which is responsible for thoughts, language, and social interaction. Each substance has its own impact there.
Alcohol affects the cerebral cortex by making us feel less focused, but free from distractions and inhibitions. Caffeine interacts with adenosine receptors in the brain and leads to a big energy surge.
Because beer can free your brain of its distractions, when your blood alcohol level reaches .007 (or about two drinks in), it actually makes you more creative.
Without distractions or worry about the world around you, your brain can make deep connections and come up with some great ideas. However, after a few more beers, you may feel less focused and even not remember so much.
So, if you’re all out of ideas and in search of a good one, crack open a beer.
About five minutes after your first sip of coffee, you start to feel a caffeine jolt. This gives you more energy and lets you better focus on your work. But, caffeine’s effects peak within 15 minutes to two hours after drinking coffee.
The bad news is that hardcore coffee drinkers can become immune to its effects and will need to drink more and more to get the same boost.
Let coffee be your drink of choice if you’ve got a good idea and just need get your writing done to meet a deadline.
The answer really should be both.
Beer helps with creativity and ideas, and coffee keeps you focused enough to get the writing done. But, as with just about everything, moderation is most important, and neither would be a good choice when you’re faced with extremely analytical or detail-oriented work.
And, of course, neither is a magic elixir that will make you a fantastic writer — they’ll just provide a little help along the way.