M. Pax: Caffeine Free Takes Practice

Vincent van Gogh's Four Cut Sunflowers Painting
Four Cut Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh.
In Memoriam: Tina Downey

Caffeine Free Takes Practice

Displaying bigstock-Close-Up-Fresh-Coffee-Bean-In--67713217bp.jpgAdding to the skill set as a writer takes a lot of practice, but it can be done.

I recently had to give up all caffeine — coffee, decaf, and tea, plus limit my chocolate. Ouch, that last one hurts.

At first it seemed impossible. I was so groggy in the morning. Ginger plus a lemon ginger, yeah double-barreled ginger, did a good job of raising my eyebrows every morning. Then I found a nice cocoa tea. It had a teensy bit of caffeine, but not enough to cause me problems.

After two months of caffeine free, I noticed something remarkable. I could drink any herbal tea in the morning. I don’t need it to wake up. The afternoon crash doesn’t happen anymore. I’m more awake without caffeine than I was with it.

Learning new writing skills works similarly. Conscious effort goes into it at the beginning. After time, it becomes more ingrained. I find some become part of my repertoire easier than others.

Some new skills work out great, some not so great. I noticed some rules, if I used them too much, took away my voice. So I eased up on those. I.e., writing without any form of the verb ‘to be’. It made me sound mechanical. Striking a balance improved my writing and retained my voice. So I chose balance.

Outlining extensively from the beginning doesn’t work for me. I did find a compromise, though. Why? I can write faster and keep the story on track better. Before I start, I write a tagline, a rough blurb, and each of the main characters’ arcs. Those bits are written on the page before chapter 1. If I can outline the next 2-3 chapters with quick sentences, it can also help me write faster and better. So I now incorporate these tools.

I find reading a really rich writer’s work helps me improve my writing too. It inspires me, and I’ll work to emulate what I like about his/her writing. It’s always good to stretch our writing muscles.

One bad habit I constantly have to keep my eye on: I’m a recovering that-aholic. Do you have a writing nemesis like ‘that’?

What would you like to improve? Being more organized from the start is still new for me. Character and emotions are something I always strive to keep upping the ante on.

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Rifters blurb:

The Gold Rush trickles to a fool’s quest and a string of stagecoach heists. In 1888, Earl Blacke decides to make a new start and become a better man. He escapes into the mountains, heading north. In the wilds of Oregon, a rift inside an ancient volcano opens and sends him into the future, into the present day. It also shaves forty years off his age, forty years to live over again and atone for what he’s done.

Starting over is hard to do. In current day New York, Daelin Long’s dream job at a publishing house goes the way of the dinosaurs her sister chases. With no money and nowhere else to go, Daelin accepts the librarian position in her sister’s dinky town in the middle of Oregon. Nestled inside ancient volcanic peaks, the town of Settler holds onto many secrets. Residents roam the streets with weirdly fashioned devices, and odd lights pulse in the night skies. People whisper of a phantom outlaw and start dying, murdered and missing their heads. On top of it all, Daelin’s sister is missing, and Daelin doesn’t know who to trust.

Earl knows more than he’s saying. He shares a notorious history with the phantom, one he’ll see remains buried. Keeping Daelin’s sister’s secrets is his only chance at redemption, and the only way to keep this world safe.

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Try book one for free!

Download from: Amazon / AmazonUK / B&N / Smashwords /Googleplay / iTunes / Other

Take advantage of the preorder special on book 2, The Initiate. Only 99 cents via preorder from Amazon, iTunes, B&N, and Googleplay. Preorder

Author Bio

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M. Pax– Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers, and one of her cats has a crush on Mr. Spock. You can find out more by visiting her website: mpaxauthor.com

39 thoughts on “M. Pax: Caffeine Free Takes Practice

  1. As an artist, I must say I love your display of the Van Gogh painting for today's tribute to Tina.

    About the caffeine….the most that I get is from green and black teas as well as Coca-Cola. The latter is a huge habit that I need to break, given that it's high in sugar.


  2. Caffeine (especially coffee and energy drinks), alcohol, smoking. Those are things I decided a long time ago to stay away from. If I'm addicted to anything it's rice and fried food – mainly chicken. Got your book M. Pax you write such fascinating books.

  3. Caffeine bothers me, too, but so far I haven't given it up. And my writing skills are always a work in progress. I tried writing without the “to be” verbs, too, but that's just awkward. You're right, it's all about balance. Congrats on The Rifters, Mary.

    RIP, Tina Downey!

  4. Yup, good metaphor for getting used to cutting out caffeine and growing into new writing skills. As for me, I cut out alcohol about 20 years ago. That was my big accomplishment–no cutting out the chocolate & caffeine for me. But each person knows what works best for them. Love the Van Gogh image. Love almost ALL of his work! And congrats on your Rifters release!

  5. The Van Gogh picture is very interesting… something different!

    Congrats on your newest baby, Mary!
    As for the coffee issue… I'm guilty! *grimace*
    To cut a long story short, I cut back at some stage… and then regressed again… *sigh*

  6. I have a lot of things I'm recovering from, and some I'm still wallowing in. You're right that it gets easier as it goes along. Mostly.

    I had to give up chocolate for a little while. It was hard. I stay away from caffeine though. I've seen how it affects people and I don't want any part of it.

  7. I started drinking coffee on a guided tour to Glacier National Park and parts of Canada. It was included free with meals, while milk or soda was extra. (I am so cheap! :p) After we moved to Texas, I managed a coffee bar for a while, and the owners let us have any drink on the menu for free on our shift (ok, with the exception of the Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffees). So I'm pretty sure my blood had an octane rating at that point.

    Anyhoo (intentional), it's great to hear you are finding what works best for you in your writing! You and M. Pax ROCK!

  8. Hi Misha .. love the Van Gogh sunflowers .. and as I'm going to let mine dry .. I'll see if they are as artistically placed when the time comes .. just hope I get some seed from them .. Tina's tributes have been lovely .. she was such a live wire ..

    I should be giving up … most things – and must get to it! I don't drink much coffee thankfully and really don't like it that much … glad to read about Mary's book .. cheers Hilary

  9. I cut caffeine a decade ago and found the same thing as you–that a hot drink was a habit, and that herbal tea woke me up just as well, because it was just my body's symbol that it was time to wake up and a comfort measure. Love the van Gogh! Because I discovered I was writing that and of too much, I now watch over that when critiquing others, too.

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