For some writers, a glass of whisky or brandy is a precious companion during the act of writing and for some, writing intoxicated is the way to go. After all there goes the famous quote, “Write drunk, edit sober”.
On why writers drink, here are what some famous writers had to say
Ernest Miller Hemingway“Modern life … is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.”
“Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares. If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.”
Hemingway’s quotes on drinking points out that drinking helps with writing life and life in general and the bar for him is a center for information and inspiration.
Raymond Clevie Carver Jnr.“I began to drink heavily after I’d realised that the things I’d most wanted in life for myself and my writing, and my wife and children, were simply not going to happen.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald“Wine was almost a necessity for me to be able to stand her [Zelda’s] long monologues about ballet …. “
John Cheever“The writer cultivates, extends, raises and inflames his imagination. As he inflates his imagination, he inflates his capacity for anxiety, and inevitably becomes the victim of crushing phobias that can only be allayed by crushing doses of heroin or alcohol.”
It’s certain that writers who drink do so for different reasons, just like any other person who drinks – especially to get rid of monsters from writing life; loneliness, boredom, stress, gain pleasure, increase self-confidence or drink out of habit, to reach a level of excitement and to escape the past and future.
However, some Novelists have disclosed that drinking has helped them to write spontaneously without having to sit and think. Under the influence, there was intuitive word flow for them – compared to when sober. They noticed more creativity spilled from intoxicated mentality.
While some writer say writing drunk is good, some writers scowl at it as being unrealistic. Some of them have experimented with writing drunk and have come to a conclusion that it’s completely useless. They only think that the writers who write drunk are “functional alcoholics” who are able to succeed in their writing despite the excessive drinking and not because drinking makes their writing possible and better.
Some writer prefer wine to liquor?
African First Noble Laureate, Proffessor Wole Soyinka during his response to a question by Financial Times Of London revealed he doesn’t drink water but wine.
Soyinka likes good wine but doesn’t support drinking of liquor. He talked against liquor during his interaction with four undergraduates at the 2013 Ake Arts and Book Festival.
Wole Soyinka“I’m against liquor; completely against liquor. Wine is not liquor,……Good brandy is not liquor; single malt whiskey is not liquor. Palm wine is not liquor. All the rest are liquor ….. Wine is excellent…what corrodes the body for me is water. I can’t imagine anybody being creative with orange juice, pineapple juice and all that. I can’t imagine it. It’s very difficult.”
Although I’m a little bit confused here, I understand that he Laureate prefers to drink mild alcoholic drinks.
What’s the difference between wine and liquor?
Both wine and liquor are alcoholic beverages but the striking difference is in their alcoholic content. The alcoholic content of wine is less than 15% and is gotten from the fermentation of grape juice while the alcoholic content of liquor is above 30% and is gotten as a result of distillation. This difference is due to the fact that liquor undergoes distillation white wine.
Now we know that whisky, brandy, gin, vodka, rum are strong alcoholic drinks – liquor.
On whether drinking alcohol actually help with writing, let’s take a look at what research has to say
It’s apparent from research that a little drunkenness boosts creativity.
According to the research by Austrian Scientists , a little intoxication can help with creativity.
Dr. Mathias Benedek“Alcohol is so linked with creativity. Previous research has shown that almost half of the great writers have history of drinking. We found that small drink can indeed help with certain aspect of creativity.”
Changing one’s mindset is essential for creativity and alcohol can initiate a change of mindset.
Do We Now Become Heroes Of The Wine Bottle To Be Creative?
I totally embrace the fact that a little alcohol can help with creative writing — but I’m not going to apply this finding to boost my creativity. As a creative writer I’m afraid I would turn into a bastard of an alcoholic if I do. I don’t want that but then it’s my my writing life. Yours might be different.
I don’t drink and write. I’m good with writing sober. Writing sober works well for me. I don’t drink because a gulp of alcohol makes me feel tipsy! Half a glass makes my body to sway and legs to stagger – changes my vision, speech, behaviour and the best way to give me a hangover is to get me a full glass of alcohol. I’d be knocked out and gone for a whole day or two.
One thing about drinking is that it escalates with usage and it’s hard to stop once you’re up there. You take a sip now, a quarter of glass next, half, full, a bottle, two, three…until you become a well known staunch alcoholic.
For this reason I stick to below my limit and that once in a while – a little red wine or palm wine. These drinks are good for health when taken in moderation.
Before you begin to drink and write
It’s important to note at this point that our bodies tolerate alcohol differently.
Some people can withstand certain level of alcohol in their bodies while some can’t tolerate just a little and for this category alcohol becomes a poison.
It means that for those who can’t withstand a little in their system should either consider not taking at all. For some this can be hard.
For those who can still function under the influence of alcohol, you might want to put your health and prestige under consideration. Too much isn’t good for you.
I don’t support alcoholism in any way, Not for writers, not for anyone because of health hazards of overuse and addiction. Nevertheless, I’m not in the position to give advice as for wether to drink and write or not. All you need to do is study the lives of alcoholic writers- especially how they ended up and learn from it. You decide from there wether to drink and write or not.
Please take care of yourself as a writer and as human.
All the best.
What do you think about writing and drinking? Share with us in the comment section.