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Monday, 16 May 2016

Food For Thought (and Plot and Character)

By Olivia Levez

What are the best things to consume when writing?

What does the brain need when plot unknotting, structure reassembling and wordage editing?
Custard creams? Cups of tea? A bottle of Scotch?
Brain cells need twice as much energy as any other body cell. Picasso, for instance, lived on fish and spinach to boost his creativity.
So here's my countdown of all foods creative, starting with:

#7   Oily fish

The fatty acids contained in cold water fish such as salmon and trout apparently boost your memory function by up to 15%. So great for remembering where on earth you saved that random scene that you really, really need right now. A few mouthfuls of trout will totally help with close reading for inconsistencies. Blue eyes? Brown eyes? Red bag? No problem.

#6  Dark green leafy things

Broccoli and brussels. Kale and chard. All of this green leafy loveliness is high in anti-oxidants - which means slowing down your brain degeneration, and an end to leaving your pen drive in the library computer on an author visit.

#5   Whole grains

Instead of munching on toast and butter, get out the oats, barley, and muesli. Grains give a slow release of mental energy, which will give you the stamina to reach that 5K word count by mid afternoon.

#4   Fresh fruit

Liberally dose your day with strawberries, oranges, peaches and pears. Fruit gives you a slow release glucose for bags of writerly energy. Blue or black berries have the added advantage of feeding your poor, tired, degenerating brain with anti-oxidants too. So snack on blueberries, blackcurrants and raisins, and chuck out the chocolate digestives.

#3   Coffee

A shot of caffeine mid morning will kickstart you into creativity again, when you start feeling The Slump. But - never drink coffee too early (I know!) as it could make you crash mid creative flow, thus slowing down your brain and stopping all those random plot ideas.

#2  Alcohol

It's official! Alcohol is good for creativity! Many famous writers have found themselves grappling with the demon drink. But did you know that a certain amount of alcohol in your bloodstream really does boost creativity? The magic number, according to Professor Jennifer Wiley, is a blood alcohol level of exactly 0.075, and there's actually a beer that's specially designed to help you reach your creative peak! Introducing...'The Problem Solver', a pale ale designed by an innovative Danish brewery (click on the picture to follow the link to this beer-for-creatives.) Once your brain is relaxed, that is when ideas ping like popcorn.

#1   Chocolate and walnuts

I've put these two together, because I figured that they would make the perfect writer's snack (Walnut Whip, anyone?). With chocolate, the darkier and snappier the better, because it contains such large amounts of flavanols, that it boosts short-term cognitive skills and helps with brain-blood circulation for three hours. That's one big brain boost. And if you couple your chocolate chomping with walnuts, well, it's goodbye tired old draft, and hello, buzzy next bestseller, as walnuts are super-powered snacks which improve memory and boost all-around brain function, because they are literally stuffed with omega-3 fatty acids. They even make you HAPPIER as too little of this compound in people's diet has been linked to depression.
So it's official. Booze in moderate amounts gives you IDEAS and chocolate/walnuts helps you to process information for creative thinking.
Keep reading for my perfect daily menu for writers...

The perfect menu for a day of binge-writing?


Porridge made with bananas and blueberries. 
Stir in spoonful of coconut oil for essential fatty acids.

Mid morning boost

Shot of expresso & handful of dark chocolate & walnuts


A Picasso sandwich: salmon and spinach/avocado

Mid afternoon treat

Pint of pale ale to reach your creative peak


Stir fried broccoli, kale, spring onions in Asian dressing

Random treat

Well, a walnut whip - obs!

And if you would like to feast upon all things gourmet and literary, this classic guide to dining scenes in literature is a must-read...

What's your favourite writerly snack? How do you boost your creativity?


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