What is it with writers and drink?





First, the roll of honour:
Hunter S Thompson
Tennessee Williams
Raymond Chandler
Dylan Thomas
Dorothy Parker
Edgar Alan Poe
Truman Capote
Scot Fitzgerald
Ernest Hemingway

(It could be a lot longer but I’ve made my point).

When I was in my twenties I wrote a piece about writing in which I claimed that “drink lubricates the synapses”.

Why did I do that?

Because there’s a pervasive view among writers that drink is good for the creative process. Which is why so many of them have taken to it with a passion.

And perhaps also because it feels good, really good.

Yes, drink imparts a glow on life.

But in my experience, it doesn’t impart a glow on your prose. Well, it may do, but only for so long as you're drunk.

When you sober up, you realise that what you wrote while in your cups wasn’t as brilliant as you’d imagined it to be.

But the myth about drink and the creative process isn’t entirely a fiction, not in my experience anyway.
Writing a story involves getting in touch with your subconscious and liberating it; letting the words flow naturally. And a certain amount of drink is good for that. But if you go too far and cross the line, all you’ll liberate is unreadable nonsense.

I spent my most of my twenties in a state that precluded any act of creation.

Too much drink, you see. I crossed  the line and stayed there.

The moral of this story is that if you want to use drink as an aid to writing, you have to keep within well-defined limits.

Now you’re going to ask me what those limits are. Truth is, and this isn’t a cop-out, I can’t tell you.

Everybody has his or her own limit.

If you must resort to drink as a writer, use it wisely.

And another  thing.

If you do use drink to help get the words flowing, don’t blame me if you become an alcoholic like Jack London; or get ulcers; or your liver gets completely fucked; or you ruin all your relationships.

These are a few of the things lying in store for you as a creative who relies on alcohol for inspiration.

It makes you wonder  sometimes if it might just be better putting up with writer’s block.

Now where’s that bottle gotten to?

*Pours large glass of scotch*

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