I often wonder about other writers’ snacking habits while we’re hard at work. We hear so much about a cup of tea and a cat, but neither of those work for me. I’m allergic to cats and I hate tea, so there’s that.

Besides, I concentrate so hard when I’m working that I don’t think about food until I come up for air. I even forget to drink water, although I always have a glass on my desk. My hands are busy, so I couldn’t snack anyway, but honestly, I rarely think of eating unless I take a break.

Before I got Molly and my Apple watch, I would sit at my desk, fingers flying, for six or more hours without moving. Alas, I often made up for it by snacking before and after dinner.

Now that Molly and Apple have teamed up to remind me to move every hour or so, I find I snack more. My weakness is anything small and easy to eat. A cookie. A handful of nuts. A piece of candy or a couple of M&Ms. The fit of my clothes is a testament to the ill effects of my newfound snacking habit.

So, my fellow Miss Demeanors, I’m interested in what you have to say. Do you snack while you work, and if you do, what’s your snack of choice?

Michele: I rarely snack while I write. I barely remember to sip water or my cold cup of black coffee. Like some of you, I zone out when writing and am almost entirely unaware of my surroundings. I am oblivious to most sounds, too, although I worry that music may have a subliminal effect on what I am writing. I am like this for the most part when I am reading. It’s funny how a simple question about whether you snack while writing can turn into self-examination about your intensity. Who me?

Connie: Sharon, I’m impressed with your ability to focus for that long! I usually snack when I’m taking a break—every two hours or so. Usually a few Nut Thin crackers and a mug of Constant Comment with lemon. Or some berries. 

Around 3pm I usually start feeling sleepy, so I make a cup of strong Keurig coffee to wake myself back up. I don’t know why but I never snack between breakfast and lunch or after dinner. Afternoons are my danger zone. Eating something is a way of rewarding myself and relaxing.

Sharon: Wow! If I drank coffee in the afternoon, I’d be up all night. Even a piece of dark chocolate has enough caffeine to keep me up at night. Love your healthy snacks, and the discipline.

Connie: Must be the Norwegian genes.

Susan: Reading this has made me hungry! I love snacking on almonds. And coffee. But I also tend to pace while I’m writing. I can’t sit still for that long. I’m always wandering around, talking to myself, my dogs following behind me. 

Emilya: After a lifetime of eating lunch at my desk while working, I think my brain is pretty used to snacking while staring at a screen and typing. I definitely forget to eat and drink when I do my code/design/IT work because it uses a different part of my brain. I ended up in a hospital once from that habit while working on a particularly challenging project. 

Writing is different. Snacking is yet another way to procrastinate, and sometimes I can’t even force myself to think without a little bowl of something or other by my side. My only salvation is that I generally snack on fruit, berries, and nuts, so at least I’m not scarfing down bags of chips. Which is 100% a probability if I kept any in the house. Usually, the more stuck I am, the more I snack. Then I get sad. Then my stomach hurts and I get even more sad. Then I give up writing for the day and go work out. 

Sharon: I wish I could remember to move around more, but in addition to my novels, I am a freelance writer. I ghostwrite blogs, websites, technical journal articles, and marketing collateral for technology clients, so I have to be in front of the screen while I work on that stuff if I’m going to keep their positioning and the technology details straight. I’ve always been able to concentrate hard enough that I don’t even notice the world around me and sitting still is a habit that evolved as I built that ghostwriting business. It forces me to stay focused on nuances and details. Besides, If I get up without her poking me first, Molly thinks we’re done for the day. And when Molly thinks you’re done for the day, believe me, you are done for the day.

Tracee: Wow the disciple! I am constantly drinking tea which means a routine need to visit the “necessary” – I’ll never have kidney stones! If I need a quick snack it’s usually almonds, but like Susan, I wander when thinking, so it is easy to swing by the kitchen for a handful. 

I have never in my entire life been so engrossed that I forgot to eat. I’ve heard of this phenomenon but, like the habits of the Inuit people, it remains a mystery to me. Although I’d probably be better off if I knew more about both. 

In all seriousness, you have to have food to counter the tannins of tea, and I get cranky if I don’t eat. Very cranky!

Catherine: I’m like Sharon. When I sit at the computer and concentrate I block out all noise including music and forget to move. This has resulted in a sciatic nerve in my neck and right arm causing enough enough pain to keep me flat on my back for six weeks taking medication that fogged my brain so not only couldn’t I write but I couldn’t edit.  Since then I’ve paid attention to the placement of my computer and my body and I try to move occasionally. I’m supposed to set an alarm to get up every forty-five minutes but I forget to do it or I shut it off and forget to get up. I never thought this would be a positive but having a very active bladder is the only thing that gets me out of my chair every hour and a half or so. I drink water when I remember but I don’t usually snack. I also usually forget to eat unless Sherry reminds me.

Tracee: Catherine, my husband brings me snacks! Mainly if I get stuck on the computer with meeting after meeting… he will show up with a little tray of treats! Always wonderful.

Catherine: As he should, Tracee

Keenan: Ah!

Alexia: Is your husband available to rent, Tracee?

Keenan: Catherine: funny! (I know it’s not funny.) But I wrecked my hip a few years ago from sitting at the keyboard for hours on end. The physical therapist who treated me for it last year told me too to get up every 45 minutes and walk around. So just beyond my reach is a tall glass of water and a cup of coffee, the consumption of which is guaranteed to impress upon me the urgency to get up.

Catherine: Keenan, that would be helpful if I looked away from my screen.

Actually, I complained to my ophthalmologist the other day that my eyes were tired. It’s gotten so bad that I had to stop working a couple of days. She recommended using Tears at least three times a day and looking away from my computer for a few seconds every twenty minutes. 

It sounds simple but so far, I haven’t been able to implement. I’m thinking I need to set a timer.

Sharon: Good plan!

Alexia: I do snack while I work but I’m trying to modify the habit. I’ve noticed that I tend to snack when I’m anxious, frustrated, or bored. I’m trying to replace snack foods with low-calorie beverages and chewing gum. That way, I get the psychological satisfaction of snacking without the calories. I don’t have a particular go-to food or beverage. Having something in my hands and/or chewing on something is more important to me than having a specific snack. Beverage-wise, it’s usually coffee or tea. I force myself to drink water but I don’t consider that a snack. I have recently found a few flavor-enhancers (grown-up Pixy Stix, really) that make water more fun.

We’ll there you have it, folks. The snacking and working habits of the Miss Demeanors.

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6 thoughts on “I often wonder about other writers’ snacking habits while we’re hard at work. We hear so much about a cup of tea and a cat, but neither of those work for me. I’m allergic to cats and I hate tea, so there’s that.

  1. I lure myself to the desk and my writing project with the promise that I can take a cup of tea and a snack (almonds, an RX or Lara bar). It’s my reward for showing up.

  2. Fun to read what everyone does or does not do. I’m not a snacker while I write because I eat a good breakfast. I can’t sit for prolonged periods of time, so I often stand while I write. Standing burns more calories and makes me more sharp-minded. As far as exercise, it is crucial for me. Swimming is my favorite form of exercise and when I am in the deep beautiful blue water, my thoughts are clear and sharp. I never forget to eat either! Never. I love to eat=and drink; be it water, coffee, beer, wine, etc. I get easily distracted, so I put on a playlist, silence my phone and dive into the manuscript on which I am working. I love it.

    1. Hi, Holly. I just got a new contraption for my desk that changes it from a sitting to a standard desk- or anything in between. I love it. And I love the water, too. Sounds like we’re kindred spirits! Good like with your manuscript.

  3. Great article, Sharon. I’m an anxious eater. A few years ago, I had a fender-bender and it upset me. All I wanted was lunch. Lol

    So, sometimes I take my laptop to a cafe or the library to write. That way, I’m away from my kitchen.

    1. Thanks, Vonnie. I love to write in cafes and libraries. I feel like I can totally concentrate. I’ve missed that the last few years.

      I empathize with your desire to eat after your accident. I’m a stress eater too.

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