Does Alcohol Improve Your Writing?

User avatar
nom
Posts: 1928
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:02 am
Platform: Mac + iOS
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:16 am Post

Brilliant. :D

I also have a new understanding of the comments following online newspaper articles. :roll:
Complete and utter NOMsense.
Image

bu
burjeon
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:12 am
Platform: Windows

Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:32 am Post

This topic is sort of old. But I'm new, and in reading it realized that I've thought about this question quite a bit.

I used to be very curious about how a writer could be a serious drinker and still write. Actors, ditto, by the way.

And I think the answer is . . . they don't necessarily get "drunk as a skunk" and then write. I think they drink continually, while they are writing, and the brain uses the alcohol so that it can keep working.

Haven't I read, somewhere, that our brain uses [ fill in percentage ] some large percentage of the glucose produced by our body in its normal functioning?

I think they're using the alcohol as fuel. And if they don't overdo it all the time, as in binge drinking or drunk-as-a-skunk, it looks like it works.

FWIW, though -- not recommending this. Just suspect that's the reason it's so common.

User avatar
nom
Posts: 1928
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:02 am
Platform: Mac + iOS
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:52 am Post

burjeon wrote:I used to be very curious about how a writer could be a serious drinker and still write. Actors, ditto, by the way.

And I think the answer is . . . they don't necessarily get "drunk as a skunk" and then write. I think they drink continually, while they are writing, and the brain uses the alcohol so that it can keep working.

Haven't I read, somewhere, that our brain uses [ fill in percentage ] some large percentage of the glucose produced by our body in its normal functioning?

I think they're using the alcohol as fuel. And if they don't overdo it all the time, as in binge drinking or drunk-as-a-skunk, it looks like it works.

FWIW, though -- not recommending this. Just suspect that's the reason it's so common.


Nice idea. But sadly, no. It's not that.

While you are probably right that many alcoholic writers drink continuously while they are writing (I've never watched an alcoholic writer in action to verify this), the reason is not they use it as a fuel. Yes, there are sugars in alcohol, and yes our bodies can use some of them (I'm not a nutritionist), but it's an inefficient way of powering the brain. Basically, excessive use of a poison to try make the body work is never a good idea.

The reason why some writers use lots of alcohol is actually very simple: alcoholism. The mechanisms can be explained by two of the key concepts of addiction: tolerance and withdrawal. Add them to the reasons why they started drinking in the first place, and you have a pretty toxic (literally!) combination.

So it's not that alcohol helps writers write, just that it helps alcoholics write. But that's not saying much as it helps those with an alcohol dependence do pretty much everything other than reduce their alcohol consumption.
Complete and utter NOMsense.
Image

ma
marcoiac
Posts: 446
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:12 am
Platform: Mac

Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:31 pm Post

You guys may want to google 'functioning alcoholics' or 'functioning alcoholism'. It's not just writing or acting, all sorts of professions/jobs have it. The current dogma is that functioning alcoholics are constantly at risk of trespassing a threshold and becoming no longer functioning. There is no hard data on this though. Indeed, even the concept of functioning alcoholism is not based on hard data. Alcoholism is by definition a disorder, if someone is functioning, how can she/he be alcoholic?

Cheers! :D

User avatar
nom
Posts: 1928
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:02 am
Platform: Mac + iOS
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:57 am Post

marcoiac wrote:You guys may want to google 'functioning alcoholics' or 'functioning alcoholism'. It's not just writing or acting, all sorts of professions/jobs have it. The current dogma is that functioning alcoholics are constantly at risk of trespassing a threshold and becoming no longer functioning. There is no hard data on this though. Indeed, even the concept of functioning alcoholism is not based on hard data. Alcoholism is by definition a disorder, if someone is functioning, how can she/he be alcoholic?

Cheers! :D


See tolerance and withdrawal.
Complete and utter NOMsense.
Image

User avatar
Jaysen
Posts: 6308
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:00 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: East-Be-Jesus-Nowhere SC, USA

Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:52 pm Post

Quote from my boss: You asked how to improve your writing, right? Have someone else do it.

This was more "work" stuff than fun stuff. Apparently my proofing is not up to snuff for paid writing. I will see if he will allow a clinical trial of the "alcohol method" of writing.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

ImageImage

User avatar
robertdguthrie
Posts: 3075
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:06 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: St. Louis, MO, USA
Contact:

Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:10 pm Post

nom wrote:
marcoiac wrote:You guys may want to google 'functioning alcoholics' or 'functioning alcoholism'. It's not just writing or acting, all sorts of professions/jobs have it. The current dogma is that functioning alcoholics are constantly at risk of trespassing a threshold and becoming no longer functioning. There is no hard data on this though. Indeed, even the concept of functioning alcoholism is not based on hard data. Alcoholism is by definition a disorder, if someone is functioning, how can she/he be alcoholic?

Cheers! :D


See tolerance and withdrawal.


See "On Writing" by Stephen King. He wrote in such an alcoholic stupor that he doesn't remember the writing process of one of this best-selling works.
Often wrong, rarely in doubt.
Time for a change... I'm now rdale; same dog-avatar, same dog... channel?

User avatar
Jaysen
Posts: 6308
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:00 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: East-Be-Jesus-Nowhere SC, USA

Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:44 pm Post

Has anyone seen the draft of said work prior to publisher editing?

One of my questions, one that I have not resolved, is how much of any particular work is the original author, and how much is the editor? My personal experience with editors (mostly corp and scholastic) is that my final output is "not me". It isn't what I wrote. The message is different. The voice is not mine either. Is it possible that Mr King's famous work is famous due to the efforts of a great editorial process (and his name) more than the actual quality of the draft he generated?

Not a judgement, just a thought echoing in the empty space above my neck stump.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

ImageImage

User avatar
Fluff
Posts: 1523
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2010 7:48 pm
Platform: Mac + iOS
Location: On the Astral Plane with Pangur bán

Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:15 pm Post

A sound and perspicacious observation? :shock: A disconcerting and ominous development! :(
Worried fluff
Sent from Pangur ban's Astral iPad

Tw
Twolane
Posts: 253
Joined: Sat May 12, 2012 7:39 pm
Platform: Windows

Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:25 pm Post

Dear Fflurf,

sdhf iera[ojcl hdiuw w jmfpwoir mfa

PJ
PJS
Posts: 1185
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:05 pm
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: Upstate New York

Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:34 pm Post

Quote from a review of The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking, by Olivia Laing:

"...that gin mill’s trademark anecdote: A nonscribbling civilian drops into the Lion’s Head for a couple of beers. After taking in the scene for a while, he remarks to the guy on the barstool next to him, 'There sure are a lot of writers here with drinking problems.' This elicits the swift reply: 'Wrong. There are a lot of drinkers here with writing problems.'"


http://bookforum.com/inprint/020_05/12757

ps
You can't conquer stupid — or cure it — with more stupid.

User avatar
Siren
Posts: 759
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:29 am
Platform: Mac + iOS
Location: U.K.

Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:16 pm Post

Judging from our virtual postbag in technical support, alcohol stops some people from writing altogether, at least until they buy a new computer. We get occasional emails from people who have spilled their beer, G&T or whatever over their laptops, with catastrophic effect on the operation of the machine. Of course, we also get emails from people whose laptops have succumbed to tea, water and other innocuous substances, so it's not a statistically useful piece of information.

Mind you, even water isn't really innocuous. As Hurricane Jack, friend of the great Para Handy, said, "“No’ a worse thing you could drink … It rots your boots; what’ll it no’ do on your inside? Water's fine for sailin' on -- there's nothing better -- but it's no' a drink for sailors.” [Neil Munro]
Literature & Latte support team

Hu
Hugh
Posts: 2444
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 12:05 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: UK

Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:18 pm Post

I think it's in his novel The Debt to Pleasure that the author John Lanchester has his protagonist remark that an Irish coffee is the perfect mix of poison and antidote.

The book is itself an enjoyable, if camp, combination of gastronomy and horror, by the way.
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

User avatar
Jaysen
Posts: 6308
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:00 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: East-Be-Jesus-Nowhere SC, USA

Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:30 pm Post

Clemens has a short story where Grandma' tells him not to drink clear liquids (I think that was how it was said, I can't find it). So he promised, and ever allowed water to pass his lips from that day forward. Luckily for him whiskey isn't clear.

I'll have to look that up tonight. I know the compilation it is in, just can't remember the published story name...
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

ImageImage

Bl
Bluesman
Posts: 54
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:07 pm
Platform: Windows

Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:11 pm Post

Sure, a couple of drinks make it easier to get into a flow of thought. Weed also affects my mood, and I tend to go deeper into stuff and focus more on small details.

Any substance will affect it in some kind of way, for better or worse. It seems to work positively for me.

 

 

cron