The right one, baby

Every writer has a superstition. I was sure I didn’t. I’m too Midwestern, too cynic-journalist. But whenever I think I’m outside the norm, I learn I’m right in the middle of the pack.

My superstition: I must have a steady supply of Diet Pepsi to be productive. No water, no juice, no coffee. Diet Pepsi in the 24-ounce bottle. Cans of soda don’t count; neither does decaf. Just a big, bubbly bottle of chemical-infused goodness. (What is potassium benzoate, anyway?)

I quit my soda habit a few months ago. I had more energy and fewer headaches. My carb cravings dropped, too, but so did my productivity and creativity. I went on my blog-cation. I didn’t get on Facebook (gasp!). Old Diet Pepsi jingles floated in my brain. You’re drinking Diet Pepsi and it shows! or No other taste attracts so much attention or You’ve got the right one, baby (featuring Ray Charles).

I’ve quit before with the same results. In college, I couldn’t master the newspaper’s photo wheel – the 1980s version of “crop photo” – without diet soda in my veins. At my first newspaper job, I wasn’t comfortable doing phone interviews without my trusty soda sidekick. Forget attending a board meeting without one. Not a chance.

My evidence isn’t exactly the stuff of Harvard research papers. I own up to the superstition. Every writer has one.

So what’s yours? she asks, taking a swig of soda.

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