1. Jones
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    Jones My body is ready

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    Alcohol - friend or foe?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jones, Nov 2, 2015.

    A lot has been made over the years of the relationship between writers and alcohol (the list of alcoholic writers reads like a Who's Who of greatness). Stephen King famously struggled with abuse and has come out and said that it doesn't help the process and he's glad to be free of it.

    In my experience, when I down a whiskey, my writing productivity increases greatly. I don't know how good the quality is, but I'm definitely looser, less distracted, and can plow through difficult scenes. I use this power sparingly. Maybe once a week, maybe less, but I definitely am able to

    I know this can be a touchy subject, but do you find any relationship between drinking and writing? Is it counterproductive? Does it make you a writing superhero like spinach to Popeye? Part of your process or strictly verboten? And if it is part of your process, what's your preference?
     
  2. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my experience, I don't find that alcohol has much effect on my writing. I wrote a scene once after a Superbowl party--I wasn't drunk, but I was far from sober--and it wound up reading much the same as the rest of my prose (which, at the time, was pretty shit). I've written while casually drinking and don't see any real difference. I've never tried writing while completely plastered, but I imagine there would not be many actual words on the page.
     
  3. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm teetotal. I'm not changing that, even if it's important for me to write the really hard boiled stuff :)
     
  4. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Write drunk, edit sober.
    I often tell my students that if you are writing your term paper on tax advantages of legalizing marijuana, it should not real like you were sampling the product during the writing process. A glass or two of (insert favorite beverage here) definitely improves the creative process and reduces inhibitions so you can put everything on the page.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It doesn't help me at all. The more I drink, the less I write. Alcohol makes me lose focus.
     
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  6. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Um ...
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Alcohol makes me want to go to sleep, it doesn't make me want to write. I work better sober.
     
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  8. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Precisely! :)
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I can't function well at all while drinking alcohol, so I only do it on special occasions during a meal or whatever. I drink coffee while I write. I need to stay sharp.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think more than anything alcohol gives people the illusion that they're good writers. Also, just because it worked for [insert great writer here] doesn't mean it'll work for you. Given a choice, I would write sober (or maybe with one bottle of beer). I would certainly revise sober. I think drinking could lead to careless mistakes like spelling errors, and I make enough of those as it is. :p
     
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  11. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    A little bit of red wine helps me relax my body and mind and concentrate, but I don't drink to write. I drink to unwind.
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I've never drank much and I doubt it would help me write better. I don't think relaxing is all that important to writing. Some of my best stuff has been written when I've been tense or moody. Besides I would never want to create a state in which I couldn't just write anywhere, anytime.
     
  13. RevGeo
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    RevGeo Member

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    I enjoy the writing process more after I've had a couple of cocktails, but I don't think alcohol - or any mind altering substance, for that matter - increases my creativity.
    Writing drunk or high sometimes yields some good, usable stuff. I just have to comb through the manuscript later to find the interesting parts (if any).
     
  14. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    From what you've shared, I don't see harm if things stay as they are. Alcohol, like any psychoactive drug, including caffeine, is liable to heightened tolerance. If you can stay at a single drink, which might not be realistic as time goes on, it might not be an issue. Myself, I tend to be very self-critical and perfectionist, so a little loosening up helps, but I'm also the kind of drinker that cannot stop at one drink so the process is flawed as far as quality writing is concerned. Maya Angelou used to write with a bottle of sherry, but I doubt she was drinking very fast or very much. You have to have the perspective to be honest with yourself about what you're doing.
     
  15. pyroglyphian
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    pyroglyphian Member

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    Just caffeine for me when writing. I try to avoid anything that induces perceptual change.
     
  16. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I often have a couple glasses of wine when I'm writing. Not enough to be drunk, but a nice, relaxing ritual. And delicious!

    I also write while totally sober, though, so I don't think it's a necessity or anything.
     
  17. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    I don't credit alcohol with any writing enhancing quality, but a glass of wine or beer can at times loosen me up a little. I think it has more to do with the fact that it works relaxing instead of it having any beneficial effects on creativity. Now, a lot of glasses are definatly not good for writing, that's for sure.

    Think it has more to do with the mood you are in. If I'm stressed or to preoccupied, a beer can definatly help me to chill out and let go, which in turn helps me focus my thoughts.
     
  18. Moth
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    Moth Active Member

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    I'm not much of a drinker (I've never been drunk) but I've tried having a little to help me write before. Didn't really work, but then I didn't drink all that much.

    If you like to have a little to loosen yourself up before you start writing, then have at it. But, the moment you start becoming dependent on booze to write, you should take a step back and look for an alternative means to do the job.
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    The way I see it, if you have to start getting yourself drunk/tipsy to do certain things like writing, then you need to step back and figure out the core reason why this is happening. 'Cuz at that point, it's no longer about doing the thing, it's about the drinking. The thing just becomes an excuse to get drunk.

    To sum up:
    Writing comes first. The booze is optional. When the booze comes first and turns into something mandatory, it's a problem.
     
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  20. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    Alcohol is definitely an enemy of mine, but that has nothing to do with writing with or without it.
    I don't touch it.
     
  21. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    I write best in the mornings and use only caffeine before noon. For me, alcohol is a social drug and I only use it in social situations. Writing takes focus and I do not want anything interfering with my thought process while writing. BTW, I don!t drink while I do any other task that is important to me either--to me, having one or a few drinks is a very occasional form of entertainment.
     
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  22. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    Same here. My thoughts are purer and more quiet in the morning, and there's nothing like sitting down, re-reading my writing dressed only in my bathrobe with a nice cup of coffee. New thoughts on my writing mostly come in the morning as well for some reason. Guess it's the fact that I'm not preoccupied then. The whole train of distraction and other thoughts only leaves the station when I get up from that chair and the ratrace begins.
     
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  23. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    FOE.

    Seriously, don't romanticize it.
     
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  24. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing is the girl at the bar you can't ask out sober unless you have the proper courage to stand up even if you fall.
     
  25. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    There have been several threads about this and something that all seem to overlook is that (IMO) these writers are not famous writers because of their drinking or drug habits but rather despite having problems. In some cases the pressure as a writer probably made their problem worse but what I'm trying to say is I personally don't believe they drank in order to write better. Rather managed somehow to not make it influence their art/work.
    What do you guys think?
     
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