1. marshipan
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    marshipan Member

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    Writing Under the Influence

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by marshipan, Mar 13, 2014.

    What are the opinions of writing under the influence?

    For instance, alcohol. Writers are sometimes notoriously known for drinking, but can they write anything good while drunk, or is it in the moments in between they scribble down the good stuff? What about William Burroughs, who wrote Naked Lunch high out of his mind?

    Mostly my experience with writing under influence involves alcohol. I think alcohol gives people a false sense their writing is good, but can also lubricate the mind up for some good flow. Overall I agree with altered states, though think a sober mind should have the final say. My own writing while drunk...well I think it helps progress a story or idea, and sometimes large pieces can be part of the final product...but I've never finished something under the influence.

    Do you think there should be a thread here dedicated to short pieces of writing while under the influence (if there isn't one already, haven't quite made it around to searching)?
     
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  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Faulkner, Hemingway, and Joyce all drank a lot, and they were great writers. Alcohol helps you write better. That's a fact. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only exception to the rule.
     
  3. marshipan
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    marshipan Member

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    But!! did they write during moments of soberness or while drunk?
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is just a guess, but I think they wrote while drinking and edited while sober.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Writing under the influence is writing stupid. Literally.

    You can list the great writers with substance problems, but they are notable because they were great writers, period. I've no doubts they'd have been even better without their personal problems with substance abuse.
     
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  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I disagree. It very well may be that the influence of alcohol led them to challenge conventional notions of what the novel can do. Instead of Ulysses and The Sound and the Fury, we might have gotten less imaginative works.
     
  7. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I'll be totally honest, I write more while under the influence. It releases my inhibitions. I feel guilty because a reader shouldn't have to subject themselves to the ramblings of some drunk idiot, but I can't help myself.
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Couple glasses of wine can help me feel my character's emotions which helps if I'm working out a scene. But I get less written. I am definitely a more productive writer sober.
     
  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    As a former drunk, I can tell you quite honestly that writers only think they write better under the influence - just like they think they're great drivers while under. Maybe - maybe - ideas flow more freely, but any good writing that comes from those ideas will come while sober - or after massive editing.
     
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  10. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Okay. Well, as a writing tool, I'd advise against it. The effect of alcohol on a person depends on that person. In some, moderate use can remove inhibitions true (which isn't always a good thing, again depending on the person - some writers need control and clarity even while other writers are too stifled by doubt). But moderate use can lead to more doubt too, even depression. I wouldn't be surprised that for the number of successful alcoholic writers there are, there are thousands of just alcoholics who may consider themselves writers.

    Unfortunately, the myth perpetuated that alcohol improves creativity has worse implications. If you start down that path writing a novel of say 130,000 words, plus drafts, you are looking at a lot of drinking time, and then you have a problem. To get out of that problem, going to a rehab, the battle of wills against "that demon drink" etc. means actually less writing time, the effect it has on your personal life and your experience might break your ability to be creative, consciously linking drinking with creativity. Alcohol is addictive, and so is writing. That's a bad mix, in my opinion. Just ask Stephen King; if it weren't for his family forcing him to seek help, he would've been dead by the 1990's.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    An important part of writing is keeping my thoughts organized, keeping track of who has done what and how I want to present that. Intoxication breaks down that organization and induces confusion. It also saps strength and stamina.

    I watched my dad lose his battle with alcohol before I turned 16. I watched him endure withdrawal and the DTs, only to go back to drinking. I wouldn't wish that personal hell on anyone.
     
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  12. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I've never tried to write while drunk, but I have tried to write while very tired. And it didn't work.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm scatterbrained at the best of times. Alcohol was never my drug of choice, but Mary Jane and I had a very long, torrid love affair. She's a demanding partner, though. I would say, "Hey, Mary, how 'bout you come over and we'll talk and write and it'll be awesome!" and she would always answer, "Of course, babe! I'll be there in ten." And she would be there in ten (it was a college town, Mary Jane knew the streets like the back of her hand), and she would be spectacular, as always. Radiant, lush. Her perky buds as perfect as any red blooded American boy has a right to expect. And we would laugh and laugh and just occasionally we would write, but my eyes were always on her and my nose was filled of her scent. The pages would hit the floor, forgotten.

    I don't see her anymore. We went our separate ways. I moved on from that college town and she stayed, like a nymph of the wood. Ever green, ever ripe, ever laughing.
     
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  14. Gemini_Genie
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    Gemini_Genie Member

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    This is great. :) I've never personally tried writing under the influence before because usually when I'm drinking there's a lot of people and way too much going on for me to think on any story ideas. With 'Mary Jane' I know I could never get anything written down. I'd laugh myself sick for an hour and thirty minutes and then fall asleep. The only thing I could ever get on paper with that slippery mynx around is drool from sleep, and cheese stains from eating mac n' cheese.
     
  15. Jak of Hearts
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    Jak of Hearts Member

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    I've tried writing drunk a few times and when I read it the next morning it sounds terrible. I've tried writing high a few times and when I read it the next morning it sounds terrible. I'll stick to coffee and hot tea. Note that I will often have a single drink while I write, but only one or two to sip on (Irish cream liqueur over ice is my favorite).
     
  16. Mic.Henry
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    Mic.Henry Member

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    Brainstorming ideas while drunk can be beneficial in rare instances, same with certain strains of marijuana. Writing on the other hand can only be accomplished whilst in a sober mind frame, this comment is based on personal experience.
     
  17. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I'll have some beers or sip rum while I write. However, I have rewritten so much, I have to say I think I get only a skeletal scene done and then have a better idea of what I want when sober.
     
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  18. Mackers
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    Mackers Contributing Member

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    I hate that fricking book Naked lunch! Has anyone read it? I couldn't make sense of it...
     
  19. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    When (When) I'm sober, my thoughts churn like a cat 5 hurricane in my brain. It takes a lot of mental control to funnel them out in a coherent, contiguous stream. Drunk, the dam gates burst open and that maelstrom of words floods out in an incomprehensible mess. The morning after, I can pick through the rubble and find some sentences and ideas worth salvaging, but it's a lot of sorting.

    Also, I seem to grow an extra finger with the mind of a two year old that just likes to mash on the key board while I try to type
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  20. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    My mind is uninhibited enough. Don't need alcohol or drugs to help me with that. Besides, alcohol just makes me sleepy, not uninhibited.
     
  21. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    It's never worked for me.
     
  22. Fronzizzle
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    Fronzizzle Member

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    I've never tried to write while intoxicated. I do, however, like to write while having a beer or two, or maybe a mixed drink. I'm not sure why, and I can't claim that what I write while doing that is better or worse than what I write when stone-cold sober...but it makes me feel like I'm writing better, getting more done. Maybe it relaxes me a bit?
     
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  23. stormr
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    stormr Member

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    Usually I write while drinking something with alot of caffiene in it. I do however have a few beers often while writing later at night. I don't get completely drunk, but nicely buzzed. Other than alot of spelling errors, which I don't mind while I'm writing. Because as I am putting out the words, ideas, sentences I am already telling myself not to be perfect, I'll fix that when I'm sobered up and full of caffiene. It does make for alot of good scenes and ideas for the stories though.

    If I do hit the point of getting too drunk, I tend to stop the writing part then go outside and have a few smokes, while thinking of ideas for stories, or scenes for a current story. then see what I still remember the next day.

    So I'm not going to say it's bad or good to write while either drunk or high. What I am going to say is that it's different for everyone. It can be good or bad, you just have to find the middle ground were it works best for you. If you want to try writing while intoxicated.
     
  24. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    My experience with drinking and writing has either been good, or it hasn't been anything at all. After a night out drinking, I usually walk home - I pass empty stores, busy streets, bars on their last call, people hailing cabs, couples kissing, people fighting. But on those walks I become rather contemplative; thoughts I then put to paper those thoughts in my catch-all notebook when I get home. I don't pretend that the writing is always good, but the ideas can be good. I've written some poems while drunk which turned out very good with a few sober touches.

    I cringe at how sentimental it can get sometimes, but that's what I feel at the time, and I drink to release that.
    Other times I will be drunk and I won't even have the slightest interest in writing.
     
  25. photojazz
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    photojazz Member

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    Try writing under the influence of other Authors, there's an influence that could help, not hurt. Being a real life Hank Moody? Probably no way to write regularly at least. I'd hate to be dependent on the bottle to produce words. Alcohol is not an addiction for me thanks.

    Write well,
    Doug
     

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