Guest blogger William Gallagher on “coffee, creativity and napping”.


We welcome guest blogger William Gallagher to Coffee Birmingham to offer up his creative productivity coffee solution.

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Coffee houses have great atmosphere, central locations and just a buzz to them. That’s great. But we forget the fundamental fact that they also have coffee – and we forget how useful that drink is in so many ways.

A coffee is your excuse for a meeting when you want to appear interested yet casual. You can end the meeting when the coffee is drunk so it can be quite a short one too and we all need shorter meetings. More, it is the only time you can get to chat with someone without the pressure of a big long lunch or the expense of a dinner.

Just for ourselves, right there on our own, coffee is the refreshing reward after hard work and it is the companion beside you as you work.

All of these are important and special but it’s also ignoring the fact that coffee can give you ignition when you most need it. Coffee is a creative boost that you can use practically on demand.

When New York singer/songwriter Dar Williams was asked the perennial question of where do you get your ideas, she offered that it was about picking your moment to work. She said for her it is a combination of your surroundings and your coffee intake:  “You have to walk around a lot of museums, a lot of sculpture parks. And time your caffeine so that you are in an open, wide, contemplative space for when it takes hold.”

This is your excuse to explore every coffee house in Birmingham and get to know what art is near each. Go now. But as great as that coffee house, museum and gallery combo is for your creativity, sometimes you need a swift fix of it at home.

If you live near enough to one of the city’s coffee house, buy a coffee there now and bring it home. If you don’t, then the very best coffee houses will sell you the raw stuff and possibly a big mug to go with it. Get a bag of beans, get whatever machinery you need to make perfect coffee at home and then go there.


When you need to perk up, perc up. But do it this way. Leave it until you’re tired but have to focus. When you’re busy but you’re drained. Also when you’re alone at home. Make a perfect coffee, enjoy it, then set an alarm for 20 minutes and go to bed.

When that alarm goes off, you’ll have had enough sleep to refresh you but you won’t have entered into a long REM sleep cycle. What’s more, the effect of caffeine from that coffee will be taking hold. This is how to go from exhausted and fractious to refreshed, boosted – and full of beans.

Two disclaimers. You should probably drink coffee responsibly. And you should definitely not take caffeine naps while in a coffee house. Imagine us all doing it: the place would look like a zombie apocalypse for twenty minutes.

About William
I’m William Gallagher. I write Doctor Who radio dramas, I’m a Radio Times journalist and the author of many media books. But I also wrote The Blank Screen – it’s a book about getting on with our creativity and beating distractions. It’s about getting the most out of our computers and especially our kettles.
The Blank Screen is now also a workshop and a website: see me at

Twitter: @WGallagher

The Blank Screen book:
The Blank Screen website:

Dar Williams:

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