There are many things that provide fuel for the writing process—newspaper articles, comments from other writers, snippets from my journal, people I notice while I’m at the pool, scenes from TV shows or movies.

And then there’s food.

Carolyn J. RoseUnfortunately, something about moving my jaws seems to move my brain. So when I write, I snack. To keep my weight and cholesterol level from creeping up into the range where my doctor shakes her head and asks whether I’ve lost the will to live, I try to snack on healthy foods. But, the operative word there is “try.”

I slip.

And I slop.

Over the years, I’ve logged many hours wiping blotches from my desk and cleaning the crumbs from the crevices in my keyboard (for the record, I like to use a paintbrush, spray cleaner, a soft cloth, and the vacuum), but time cleaning is time lost to writing.

And messy snacks that require two hands to devour (think multi-layered sandwiches) and must be cleaned up after, can subtract double from writing time.

That’s why I’ve made a couple of lists.

The go-for list contains anything that can be eaten with one hand and won’t drip, crumble, spill, or make my fingers sticky: coffee in a no-spill cup, dry-roasted nuts, one-bite cookies and crackers, baby carrots, candy-coated chocolates, dry mini shredded wheat, etc.

The avoid list is far more specific, far more interesting, and far more likely to make me salivate even as I consider the reasons these snacks are banned from my office.

  • Any drinks with ice. Cold drinks mean condensation. That means wet fingers. That means a slick and slippery keyboard.
  • Pistachio nuts. Unless you’re willing to risk the wrath of your dentist and open them with your teeth, you’ll have to take both hands off the keyboard and bits of that papery material inside the shell goes flying.
  • Fruit or vegetables not cut into bite-sized chunks.
  • Bowls of cereal. The drip and tip factors can be enormous.
  • Ice cream on a stick or frozen fruit bars. Unless your office is a lot colder than mine, there will be dribbles.
  • Adult beverages. These are occasionally great for inspiration, but not so great for concentration.
  • Potato chips. Grease and crumb alert. Add a dip and you’re in danger of shorting out your keyboard. Don’t even think about corn chips and salsa.
  • Buttered popcorn. Well, duh.
  • Cheese Puffs. Greasy and prone to shedding orange flakes.
  • Peppery chips. Sneeze alert. You’ll be mopping off your monitor.
  • Sticky buns = Sticky fingers = Sticky keyboard.

Do I ever violaHemlock Lake Front by Carolyn J. Rosete my snacking rules?



If you don’t believe me, you’re welcome to drop by my office and check my keyboard—just give me about thirty minutes notice, okay?Sometimes by Carolyn J. Rose

What’s your favorite writing snack or the snack that’s number one on the list of those banned from your workspace? Leave a comment and share your dirty little dining secrets.

I made my list of rules while writing Hemlock Lake, a mainstream mystery set in the Catskill Mountains and released this summer by Five Star. I broke every rule while my husband and I wrote Sometimes a Great Commotion, a romp of a cozy (the second in the Devil’s Harbor series) just out from Krill Press. It’s a sad fact that when the pace of the action increases, I don’t put the snacks aside, I just chew faster.

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She teaches novel-writing in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.  Visit her website at