1. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Drugs and writing

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by AVCortez, Jun 21, 2013.

    A friend from uni (years ago) said to me "You're not a writer unless you have ten cups of coffee a day."

    So, drugs and writing? Do they mix? Plenty of writers have been drug fiends, plenty of writers have been as straight as a freshly made arrow.

    As an alcoholic who recently fell off the wagon, I can say I've taken just about everything once or twice in my life and none of them mix well with writing. Under the influence, even only alcohol and/or caffeine I struggle to concentrate. My productivity goes down and my commitment wavers. But experiences with perception altering drugs most definitely generate experiences that are later applicable to writing.

    What about you? Caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, sleep deprivation, even mental illness. Anything that alters your mental state. Do you find they help or hinder your writing? In a broad sense; both literally writing under the influence, and the experience itself contributing to you as a writer.

    EDIT: please do not make this a discussion about "how high you got last weekend." Or incriminate yourself. NSA man, that's a thing... well, not to me I'm in Australia, but I'm sure they're still watching.
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Ten cups per day? HA! Not enough!

    Only joking, though I do have a chronic addiction to coffee. I usually like to be completely sober when I write. Drugs just make me lose the spark somewhat, and I can just tell it when I've read something that I've wrote in a state of intoxication.

    I like to think with a clear head, and preferably with a song in my heart. Though, this is more a suggestion to myself really. Writing is not always that easy, but you do just have to sit down and do it. As I keep trying to remind people.
     
  3. Makeshift
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    Makeshift Active Member

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    I've never used any illegal narcotics so can't comment on them. I don't drink coffee but probably the caffeine doesn't affect the writing at all, it simply prevents the withdrawal symptoms and allows the writer to function normally. It never occurred to me to write drunk, probably because I never drink alone. When I drink, I'm with other people and have no time to write. I hate sleep deprivation, not because of any reality-altering quality(maybe I have never stayed awake long enough) but because it feels horrible physically with the headaches and everything. Even my epileptic seizures are boring in the sense that they never contain any hallucinations. As far as psychedelic experiences go, I've discovered dreams, especially nightmares and the occasional sleep paralysis, to be inspiring enough and some of my short horror stories are partially based on dreams. Too many people ruin their lives with drugs and alcohol. My old math teacher used to say that things were never so bad that you couldn't make them worse with alcohol. Writing is not like sports, we don't need doping.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Caffeine annoys my heart muscle, I drink a few cups diluted with a lot of decaf.
     
  5. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    My mind is f*cked up enough without any help. I do love the "-ine" sisters, though. Codeine and morphine. Nicotine and caffeine.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've been writing 'seriously' and full time since the early 80s, but have never been a coffee drinker...

    back then i usually started off with a pot of oolong or jasmine tea on the writing table in the am... by late afternoon, it would be supplanted by a glass of chenin blanc, or a stoli and soda with lime...

    gave up all the alcohol at age 57, have been drinking a mug of tea every am since then, but only the de-caf kind... so by way of my own comparison, at 74 now, i don't see caffeine or booze as being at all necessary for writers... in fact, it's probably more of a drawback than an aid...
     
  7. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    You're a fiend lemex! I have two cups when I wake up but that's just so I feel human. A chat with my partner inspired this thread. We were talking about quitting caffeine but both of us have been wired on the stuff for about 10 years, so when we stop it doesn't just end after the 3 day headache. We feel tired all the time, but in actual fact we're just normal, and need some exorcise :p.

    Hahaha, nice. That's it. I'm also an artist and I find that hallucinogenics make drawing very interesting but don't inhibit my actual skill. Writing on the other hand, it's like someone has cut the strings between my brain and the keyboard/pen - right now I'm writing on 7 beers and it's already a massive task.

    Hahaha! That's very true, but what about the experience? A lot of interesting writing is driven by drug/alcohol fuelled endevours -Hunter S Thompsom's stuff, lights out in wonderland (the author I forget). Your maths teacher was a very smart man by the way.

    really? my cousin has a heart condition, a redbull will kill him - similar situation? perhaps not as intense?
     
  8. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    I wish I could get some morphine, Codeine; "it helps me sleep". Nicotine is where it's at - 30 a day since I turned 16. I am a passionate believe that smoking related illness is a government circulated myth

    You're 74 years old? Do you have a history with alcohol? has it shaped the way you write at all?
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I spent two years of university as a wake-n-bake pothead. I was under the passionate belief that one of the benefits of weed was that it released the inner wordsmith in me, that it released my soul to find new places, unnamed and esoteric.

    I don't have a scrap of writing from that period on to which was worth holding.
     
  10. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    I take Quaaludes and make sure I have pen and paper ready during the stomach pump. A beer for after it's all over.
     
  11. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    That sounds really pretentious when written, but I imagine it was said in humour. I think the connection with drugs and creativity is a gimmick. Though, I haven't tried hallucinogens.

    I smoke, but it doesn't do anything for me. I think it's more the idea of taking a few minutes to go outside, away from the laptop and reflect that's the appeal of having a cigarette.

    As for weed and grog, you might have great ideas or you might think you have great ideas, but I've never written anything worth looking back on. They do, however, break down your inhibitions giving you the illusion of flowing creative juices. I dunno, that's just me. It might be different for other people.
     
  12. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Mary Jane is possibly the most boring drug on the circuit. I have no idea why people have such a fascination with it. It takes you to a new level of watching late night TV and that's about it.

    ??
     
  13. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    Your imagination serves you well.
     
  14. Faust
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    Faust Contributing Member Supporter

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    I find that I can write more easily when drinking caffeine*, but I don't smoke nor have I ever attempted anything stronger than tobacco.

    *I have also had instances of 'easy writing' when I wasn't drinking a caffeinated beverage, so I don't want to state that coffee is mandatory to my writing sessions. It occasionally helps, that's for certain.
     
  15. glitchingitup
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    I sometimes smoke if I’m writing poems, it helps me stay...in the moment. I cannot do this when writing short stories. Rest of the time it’s music & caffeine for the mornings.

    I find that meditation really helps. I have better awareness, a keener sense of observation afterwards so that’s become my go-to tool to improve my creative writing.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Oh I am a coffee fiend. You have no idea. ;)

    But that can be an issue for coffee drinkers like us, without that morning pick-me-up there is nothing to ... pick you up for the day ahead, so you expect a serge of energy from the coffee that you are not going to get. Recently I've limited myself to two cups of coffee per day, I will admit, I am addicted to the stuff.

    As it would be! I often find that being intoxicated just makes you more confident in what you write, but does nothing to actually help your writing ability, so I suppose it has it's uses, but that's mostly an illusion. Though, not completely.
     
  17. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    I think that we forget that to a non-coffee drink - caffeine is a legitimating high. I realised this when someone told me that having a decent line of speed was the equivalent of having a cup of coffee. A statement I found to be less than true; seriously, just have cup of coffee.


    I wrote my first novel drunk out of my head and yeah, it was terrible; but pretty ballsy. Honestly I think the only purpose to drugs as a writer is as research. After all, can you really write a junky based on google?
     
  18. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I drink a lot of coffee - but I do that whether or not I'm writing. Anything that messes with straight thinking messes with the writing, IMO. I often wonder how much better some of these writers would be if they hadn't been drinking and doping all the time. Or probably a lot of that is just adding to the 'mystique' of the author. There are a lot of wild stories about various authors that simply are not true...
     
  19. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't have to take drugs to find out how to write about someone on drugs. It's just like any other research - you don't have to experience it to learn about it.
     
  20. Makeshift
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    Makeshift Active Member

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    No doubt about that and we can enjoy that work without endorsing drug use. But when we look at the other side of the coin, a lot of the writers also developed problems with drugs and alcohol and many died prematurely because of it. I wonder how many at the end of their lives still felt it had been worth it. I haven't tried any mind-altering substances besides alcohol, so I have no idea what the experience is like, but I think the risks outweigh the benefits. I also had a gym teacher who always reminded us that women weren't just equipment for carrying pussy.
     
  21. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Could read the novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or watch one of the many many 'stoner' films out there. You'd be surprised. :p
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The notion that intoxicants spur your creativity is utter crap. They merely warp your judgment so you think you're being brilliant.

    Some "creative" types never become clear-headed enough to see how intoxication has blunted their creativity.

    Of course, a few manage to be innovative anyway. Just think how much sharper they'd be clean and sober.
     
  23. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wondered this about Shane McGowan, lead singer and song writer for The Pogues. His songs are genius, his words pure poetry and I doubt he's had a sober day in his life from doing everything from Ex to Meth to heroine while homeless on the streets of London to his 2 bottles of whiskey a day now and he's still performing and turning out music most mere mortals could only dream of writing. Google the lyrics To Rainy Night In Soho for an idea.

    He says himself he doesn't remember writing most of his songs - the lyrics or the music and almost every song about his own baked experiences while baked. I wonder if he was sober, never drank or did a drug, had a 9-5 and a nice apartment somewhere - would he even be able to write his own name?
     
  24. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Substances affect different people differently, it's physiological. That's why people have a preferred 'poison'. For some it's opiates, for others alcohol, for some it's weed, caffeine etc.
    I wrote in the past while stoned on weed and it meshed well with writing. Likewise, I wrote whilst drunk and it worked well. My productivity was much less with alcohol though. However, since I stopped taking any mind-altering substances (it's been years now), my writing is perfectly ok, and I much prefer it this way. I prefer English tea with milk, one or two cups a day and rest of the day is water. And I spend hours writing every day, weekends included.
     
  25. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    "I thought Lance Armstrong was amazing winning 7 Tour De Frances while on drugs, when I'm on drugs I can't even find my bike!"

    Seriously, when I'm drunk, I wouldn't be able to even turn on my laptop let alone press the keys in any specific order.
     

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