Writers have always occupied the harmful stereotype of being constantly drunk. Slurring at the keyboard, tapping ferociously at the keys and somehow creating something beautiful. With characters like Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson at the helm who can really blame them. It’s perhaps almost as harmful as the stereotype that writer is simply another word for unemployed, but the dangerous thing about this one is that studies suggest that this could actually be true! Studies have discovered that there is a link between our alcohol consumption and our level of creativity.
How can Drinking Enhance Creativity?
Dr Mathies Benedek’s journal article in Consciousness and Cognition suggests that having a small drink before engaging in creative tasks like brainstorming or creatively writing can enhance an individual’s creativity. The science behind the experiment suggests that as we drink alcohol we begin to lose cognitive control. When we become fixated on problems having too much cognitive control over our mind can restrict us in some ways. By decreasing cognitive control we can think slightly more freely, which is incredible! The second theory they have to support their findings is that by drinking alcohol we can tap into the unconscious mind and discover solutions to problems subconsciously which is equally as insane.
Here’s to Alcohol the Rose Coloured Glasses of Life– F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Beautiful and the Damned
Well there you have it ladies and gentlemen I’ll be writing the rest of these blog posts when I’m absolutely steaming drunk! I’m joking of course but I can’t deny my curiosity has been piqued, in fact maybe some of the more edgy quotes from our favourite writers ring a little truer than they ever did previously. Hemingway’s very famous quote “write drunk and edit sober” could very well be a viable literal strategy. I’d always taken the quote itself as a metaphor for writing with passion and editing with a more clinical mindset, but maybe he was being slightly more literal than I had anticipated.
“I’m not a Writer With a Drinking Problem, I’m a Drinker With a Writing Problem” – Dorothy Parker
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I think drinking alone purposely for the reason of reconnecting with the muse is extremely irresponsible. Sometimes drinking can bring us excellent experiences, periods of time where we feel courageous, invincible and even creative. The only trouble with these periods of time is that they are usually artificial. Just because you feel invincible with a few drinks in you doesn’t mean you are invincible. As Dorothy Parker put it, I want to have a writing problem as a pose to a drinking problem, I’d rather have an addiction to my craft than an addiction to a substance. I want to be a writerholic, not an alcoholic. I suppose by engaging with our craft we learn about our process, our creative mind is unique to us and works differently to other people, with this being said perhaps eventually we won’t need any help tapping into our creativity with practice, dedication and an addiction to writing.
Alcohol Maybe Mans Worst Enemy, But the Bible Says Love Your Enemy– Frank Sinatra
It’s an interesting phenomenon, the idea that writers are drinkers and that the two are inseparable. Let me know if you think your creativity has ever been enhanced by the bottle, who knows maybe I’ll give it a go…