Write drunk, edit sober. –Ernest Hemingway (supposedly)
“Write drunk, edit sober” – those are the famous words often attributed to Ernst Hemingway. The truth is he probably didn’t say those words, but it hasn’t stopped other writers using it as a technique to improve their writing.
After all, many brilliant writers were also heavy drinkers, including David Foster Wallace, Edgar Allan Poe, Truman Capote, and of course Hemingway himself.
The question remains: does drinking help the writing process?
The Expert Editor decided to look at the science behind writing drunk and editing sober. Check it out below.
Thank you to Rachael Liu from the Expert Editor (UK/Australia) for sharing this informative infographic on the effects of alcohol… coffee!
Drinking while writing the first draft has actually been a beneficial experience for me (but only after 11pm). Surprisingly enough, while tipsy and writing, those tip-of-the-tongue words come to me so much faster than when I’m not under the influence. Or do they…?
Before I go on here, I’m not pushing alcohol on anyone here. It can be addictive for some, and alcohol reacts differently on everyone. So please don’t think I’m condoning drinking. I strongly believe in “to each his own” … as long as it’s not criminal.
So that being said, when I drink, I get happy. My introverted self becomes a bit more sociable. So why not try writing while tipsy? I did. On the upside, I wrote faster because I wasn’t hung up on “is this worded correctly” and “I’m not afraid to write down my first intuitive thought,” so there is a constant flow of words. On the downside, I rambled a little too much, and spelling and grammatical errors abounded. However, this isn’t a big deal to me because I only do this for the first draft. Getting the initial story written down is imperative.
Now I wouldn’t recommend using alcohol to fuel technical writing. I couldn’t imagine the amount of editing that would be required for fact-based writing. Unless you use tags to indicate something that needs precise thought.My only advice to alcohol and writing fiction is that it would probably be helpful to work with an outline to keep your writing in line. Even then, drunk writing is privy to meandering and wandering. It was an interesting thing to write drunk.
Do you, or have you, written tipsy/drunk? Have you found it a help or a hindrance? I would love to hear your thoughts!