“Write drunk; edit sober” – Not Hemingway!
Every writer who’s worth their ink has heard the famous misattributed quote above. For the sake of commonality, I’ll just roll with it as if he had– for several reasons. I’ll start with the first part– putting a drink down next to an empty page.
Some of you teetotalers might have just said, “Why?! Writing is a craft, not some whimsical farce borne of intoxication!” First off, your ego can fuck off at the door. I’m willing to bet that you’ve stared at a blank page for hours innumerable because what words you did manage to put down “weren’t right.” I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. Here is where my good ol’ buddy Al Cohol is useful– he’ll distract your inner perfectionist while you can get down to creation. I wonder how many instances of writer’s block come from ill-timed, persistent, perfectionism. A drink or two (or getting utterly blotto, depending on your tolerance/coordination/preferences) is enough to ignore the picayune whatever that keeps you hitting backspace as often as any other key.
Sidestepping the dreaded writer’s block isn’t the only benefit to a lightly-to-fully inebriated state of mind. Consider, if you will, what I call the “hold my beer” principle. You don’t dismiss bad ideas off the bat when under the influence. You’re inclined to run with them when most sober people wouldn’t even take them under consideration. Bad ideas make for great stories, and when you’re in writing mode– it’s not like you’re going to end up in the running for a fucking Darwin Award. Since you’re going to edit it sober, who cares what semi-intelligible tripe you throw down in the first draft? You might be surprised at not only the left turns you take, plot wise, but the wording you dream up. Sometimes all you need is a concept on the paper that sober-you can work with.
Thirdly, a sloshed psyche can run with an idea that it finds interesting like a goddamn marathon runner. Ever played drunk babysitter for a friend who isn’t face-to-floor wasted? It’s either hilarious or fucking aggravating, because plastered people tend to be single-minded with their attention. You can use this to your advantage, regardless of theme. After putting the inner perfectionist on mute and booze-boarding your creative spark, it’s easy to ride that singular attentiveness to a workable word count.
If you do opt to partake in performance-enhancing substances, always fucking revisit the fruits of your labor when sober. Obvious reasons aside (i.e. typos, comment-section-worthy grammar, generalized fucktardery, etc.), this practice literally puts a fresh pair of eyes on your work. You will catch all the easily-missed oopsies that your eyes will miss if you wrote it sober. Why is that? Because whatever you’ve written sober will still read the same way in your mind when you’re editing– unless you put an unconscionable amount of time between the two phases. This practice will shorten the process by allowing you– as opposed to an editor, a test audience, or a friend– to be your first pair of fresh eyes on the text. Provided that you haven’t tried to write while Lahey-wasted, the fine tuning should be both productive– and simple.
See? There is a modicum of method to my madness, besides making excuses for my *ahem* penchant for the outlandish. Try it out once, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like you’re getting anything done staring at whitespace.