The Truth about Drinking and Writing

Will drinking help your writing, or will it just make people think you’re drunk?

You ever wonder whether there’s any truth to all that Hemingway, Bukowski lore about liquor somehow lubricating the creative process and making you write beyond your potential?

Well, I have a few “valuable insights” gleaned from my experiences writing, drinking, and writing about drinking for the likes of Dewar’s, Jim Beam, Budweiser, Lowenbrau, Leinenkugel’s, Canyon Road, High Life, Icehouse, and, well, you get the picture.

The answer is: No.

That’s the long and short of it. I have tried it, and I’m here to tell you that none of those cases of special research beer we “tested” at Young & Rubicam or those bottles of Dewar’s 12 that floated around the agency at AF&G ever inspired a single concept, headline, or tagline. Sorry to burst the bubble, so to speak.

Drinking just makes you sleepy. It makes large burritos look more attractive than they are. And it tricks you into confusing “the idea of working” with actually working. In other words, you wouldn’t even know it if you were being productive. Drinking leaves you with perhaps the darkest hangover of all: not being done.

So what will help your writing?

  • Write conversationally. The same way you speak. Just let it flow.
  • If you’re tired and frustrated, sleep. Sometimes a good night’s rest (or even a 10-minute nap) is all it takes for your mind to work out the words.
  • If you’re blocked, workout. (If you can’t get out, just try some push-ups.)
  • Blocked badly? Permit yourself to write badly. (This is a good trick. Just remember to edit your work afterward or they’ll think you’re drunk.)
  • Still blocked? Print it out, tape it to the wall, and leave it ’til tomorrow.

And once you’ve nailed it, by all means, reward yourself with a nice tall glass of whatever it is you’re having. This writing stuff ain’t easy.