Creative people and caffeine and tobacco are like a trio.
When I was working at an advertising agency, I came to learn this fact the hard way. With me as an exception, everyone in the office is a smoker and coffee drinker. Even the female coworkers. Even the female coworker who just had a baby and then was breastfeeding it. I judgmentally questioned her motherhood moral and conscience. What a workplace!
Traumatized by this, I then quit working there and changed my workplace. I was appalled by how much smoke and fumes I had to inhale on working days, giving me a shiver everytime I saw them.
As a writer myself, I have never drawn inspiration from smoke or cigars or cigarettes or any tobacco products. Even the overly-hyped vape!
I am not fueled by those things while writing. I am fueled by fresh water, whole foods and ample night sleep and serenity.
So is it really necessary that writers must smoke?
Two of my favorite writers don’t seem to agree. Even in their professional journey as authors, they can stop smoking totally. And by making the decision, they are even more productive.
David Sedaris has a rather unique story of quitting because he did not quit smoking because of himself. It’s more because the Ritz Carlton staffers who prohibit smoking in all of their establishments. He told NPR that his mother’s tobacco-related death and being shown a lung of a heavy smoker did not change his mind about smoking but once he found out that he can never smoke while spending nights at any Ritz Carlton hotel is a shocking reason to pick from a lot of more logical ones.
Haruki Murakami in his running memoir “What I Talk about When I Talk about Running” said after he sold his club and established a more steady income from writing, he then radically changed his lifestyle.
From nocturnal to diurnal.
From unhealthy to healthy.
From sedentary to active lifestyle.
From an owl to an early riser.
Murakami saw the needs to stay fit because he is the type of person who easily gains weight if going physically inactive. And he is very grateful about this as it encourages him to stay in shape as long as he can so he can write more in life.
And he chose running because running is cheap and doable without any special equipment or infrastructure or supporting facilities. He doesn’t need a world-class jogging track. A decent lane will just do. While he started running, Murakami also gave up smoking.
“Giving up smoking is a kind of natural result from running every day. It wasn’t easy to quit. […] But the desire to run even more makes me not to go back to smoking and a great help in overcoming withdrawal symptoms. Quitting smoking is quite a symbolic gesture of farewell to the life I used to lead.”
So what’s the takeaway from these two authors’ journey to tobaccoless life?
Probably this: A combination of external interventions and some internal motivation could be of greater help for those who want to quit. (*/)