1. General Daedalus
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    General Daedalus Active Member

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    Drugs And Their Effect On Your Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by General Daedalus, Jul 20, 2015.

    So, after the past few days I've came to notice that different substances can affect your writing. I wanted to see what everyone else thought about this.

    I'm just going to stick to what I found with alcohol, since I unsure whether the forum has any drug rules or anything. Anyway, I've been writing pretty much non-stop for the past four days, and I'd usually drink coffee when working excessively. However, on a normal day I drink anywhere between 4-6 cups of coffee, and now it doesn't even keep me awake. So I decided to spice things up a little, and I've went through about half a bottle of whisky since Friday (Writer's Tears whisky, appropriately named).

    Anyhow, I've actually noticed that it helps me to write. A lot. I haven't had writer's block, I haven't had to delete huge chunks upon a reread, in fact I've been turning out (in my opinion, at least) professional, novel-quality stuff.

    Anyone else have a similar experience? I don't want to sound like I can't write without drinking or anything, I just feel like it really helps me out.
     
  2. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know alcohol makes some people less inhibited and weed helps people be more creative, both of which can be useful. Psychedelic drugs can change your whole entire perspective on life, which will of course impact your writing in a big way, maybe even completely changing what you find interesting to write about. Only one I use regularly is caffeine; the extra "thrust" just peps up my writing motor a bit.
     
  3. Song
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    Song Active Member

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    As someone that used to use drugs in the past, and a student of psychology I can tell you it's kind of complicated. First different drugs affect your motor skills and the ability to actually hit the keys you want to (alcohol is a good one for ruining this). They can also reduce your inhibitions and doubts you have about writing, which can have either a positive effect (because you should have more confidence) or a negative one (because you were right to have your doubts). With drugs like LSD or mushrooms they can make you very anxious, confused and paranoid which could ruin your confidence. Opiates like Cocaine usually make people over confident and slightly delusional which makes you more likely to write rubbish you think is pure gold. Then you need to consider how they effect mood, with drugs like alcohol making people depressed etc. Whether they are uppers or downers will also effect whether you even want to write, cannabis is famous for making people lathargic.

    The one area I think they without doubt have a positive effect is they can make you think outside of your usual box, when that happens it can motivate someone. However if you use the drug too much it becomes the new normal and this effect is lost. Giving someone the chance to get out of their usual box also gives them new experiances to write about and new perspectives etc. The other thing is to look at why do people do drugs and who does them. There is a correlation between mental health and substance abuse, and a correlation between both of these things and a tendancy to be creative.

    I haven't done drugs in over 10yrs and I feel as creative as I was when I was smoking or drinking. But there are so many variables at play it's hard to say 100%.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I once made a joke to a jazz drummer that alcohol makes one play better. "No, it doesn't," he said. "It just makes you think you're playing better."

    I suspect the same is true of writing.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The dog days are over
    The dog days are done*

    Oh, wait— never mind.



    *Florence and the Machine
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  6. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Alcohol just removes boundaries and restrictions that would otherwise influence your process, liberating your approach from ones own criticism. Not to mention intensified emotion and the unshackling of burdens.

    What you write could be enhanced through the use of alcohol, or possibly other drugs (though, I've never taken them), but how you write it probably would degrade.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, @GingerCoffee - didn't catch the reference.
     
  8. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Oh yes, I have a tendency to think that anything I write comes out like a blog that has really nothing to share. Thinking though, and seeing writing as a deep planning of effect, is the remedy.
     
  9. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    '...in fact I've been turning out (in my opinion, at least) professional, novel-quality stuff...'

    That's pretty good for a sixteen-year-old burning the candle at both ends, booze included.

    Doesn't that line of yours tell you something about reality and hint that you need to slow down? Are you trying to prove something?
     
  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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  11. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    The litmus test will be after you have put your work aside for a few days and read it back, completely sober and refreshed after some catch up sleep.
     
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  12. Woof
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    Woof Contributing Member

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    OP: I'd recommend you find something more concrete on which to build your writing skills. Drugs and alcohol are fickle and whilst they might be helping you now, that won't always be so. Do you really want to be beholden to them for your creativity?
    For me, practise practise practise and self-realisation techniques (e.g. meditation) have proved more useful. It may sound a bit new-age-blah -- and it can be if you don't commit to it -- but in the end both provide skills and understanding that no one can take away from you.
    I've had a bad relationship with whiskey myself; it shortcut me into psychological depths I could mine for my writing, but I had very little control over it. And I had a bad relationship with prescription drugs too: anti-depressants. They trounced any writers' block I had, but I didn't care what I was writing either. Neither of them were any substitute for what I have now, and both of them, eventually, almost killed off that part of me entirely. Some of that may be due to my personal psychological make-up -- we do all react differently -- but my overall experience is that there's infinitely more value in developing your skills sober.
     
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  13. General Daedalus
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    General Daedalus Active Member

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    I realise that it sounds somewhat unlikely but from where I'm from you'd be rather surprised. I was quite impressed by the effects so I carried on, the last time a drank I had a couple of Irish coffees at around 10 AM this morning. I wrote a little, but largely spent my day working on other projects. Then since about 9PM, I've been writing solid, and I've achieved 7000 words in the past three hours. And it's actually much better than what I've been doing so far. In fact, I revisited my earlier work and made some substantial changes.

    On a side note, I have been drinking for a couple of years (not heavily or anything, mostly socially but alone more recently), and it does help me to forget about stress and all of the stuff I haven't done that I need to. I have some anxiety issues (which I'm actually beginning to think stem from marijuana) and it helps a lot with those, though I'm largely over them now after doing a lot of thinking. Anyhow, my point is I know I'm young, and I do have a habit of doing stupid stuff, but I have my reasons. Though for now I'm definitely going to stick to writing sober. I hit 12000 words today and I'm proud of that, especially since I've only been writing since Saturday (which I realise isn't much for some of you guys reading this, but that's dedication for me). I'm going to spend the next six weeks doing this, and I won't be stopping until I hit at least 90000 words. I'd actually very much like to have a book with my name on it.
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    To me, using alcohol to help you write is a dangerous road to traverse. Sure there's nothing wrong with having a drink as you write but moderation is key. Last thing any of us need is to be the stereotypical alcoholic author who can't write unless he/she is shitfaced off of their favorite brew.

    On a more personal note, however, alcohol makes me sleepy almost instantly. It's not a magical Creative Writing Strength Enhancement +1000™ potion. It just kills off a bit of the stress and worry...as well as making your limbs feel like lead.
     
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  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wasn't it Hemingway who was quoted as saying "Write drunk, edit sober."?

    And then he denied he'd ever said it.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Hemingway was a drunk. He was also an amazing writer, but not because he was a drunk, despite it.

    He was self-destructive. That is a quality that breaks, not makes, good writers.

    As for drugs in general, why do you think they call it kid, dope?
     
  17. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    On one hand, alcohol makes me likelier to write what comes to mind, but on the other hand, it reduces the quality of the thoughts that come to mind. So it is a net negative.
     
  18. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    No. He merely never said it.


    “Write drunk, edit sober” sounds good, but the problem is that it’s not by Hemingway. The quote is all over the internet being attributed to EH, but no one ever gives a source in Hemingway’s works or conversations. This is because the quote is almost certainly by a novelist called Peter De Vries. He published a novel called “Reuben, Reuben” in 1964, where the main character is based on a famous drunkard poet, Dylan Thomas. On page 242 the character says this:

    “Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?tbm=bks&tbo=1&q=%22sometimes+i+write+drunk+and+revise+sober%22&btnG=

    The book is out of print I think, and I only found the quote because it was quoted at that link in The Writer in 1966. Oddly enough, some people online attribute the quote to Dylan Thomas, again without giving a source in Thomas. They don’t realise that they are quoting the words a novelist put in the mouth of a character based on Thomas. Occasionally the quote is attributed to Mark Twain, again without a source. I have no idea why people attribute it to Hemingway, since there is no source for it. Hemingway is a famous name, so the quote spreads like wildfire because of that I suppose. However, there is no source in Hemingway’s works or conversations, so it’s not his quote unfortunately.
     
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  19. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Drugs and drinking worked for Hunter S Thompson
     
  20. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Yeah, right up until he committed suicide.
     
  21. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Net flicks has a good show on him now, kinda depressing to watch but inspiring also.
     
  22. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Then again bill Hicks had his share of drugs and he was one of the best stand up comics of all time.
     
  23. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Caffeine is a drug I use often when writing. People forget it's a drug, but it's a drug.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sure, you can find fringe cases to rationalize writing wasted, but doesn't that say more about the disease than about creativity?

    Fucked up is fucked up, no matter how you try to pretty it up.
     
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  25. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I just drink whiskey, beer or wine. It doesn't really impact my writing. I don't get wasted. Haven't used any other drugs for writing, including caffeine.
     

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