Distractions · Drinking and writing · Reflection · Writing Process

Drink To Think: Books, Booze and Writing


There are a lot of jokes passed around Twitter with regard to writers and drinking. My tweeps and their glasses of wine, beer and the occasional margarita. A few sit contentedly with their mug of tea or coffee, but I’m not writing about them (oh heck no – those are the kinds of drinks a writer needs the morning after they drink themselves into chapter-writing bliss and oblivion!).

What is it about drinking and writing that makes them go hand-in-hand like PB&J? Lucy and Ricky? Arguing and politics (ahem, Chris Rivan!)? I think that most creative souls are tortured… we fret and freak out about details that mean nothing – NOTHING – to anyone else. We watch lapses of time with the eyes of a hawk, noting little insignificant matters and milestones as they pass us by.

When did he ask me to marry him?

How high was I asked to jump?

That was the day the music died!

To deal with it all, creatives – writers in particular – tend to hit the nearest road to escape-land. Done legally (well, in California we do allow medical marijuana, which just about anyone with a backache can get a card for), we melt into a subtle world where the unihibited live… including our characters. The easiest way, and one that is favored by the many I mentioned previously, is drinking.

I don’t condone drinking as a lifestyle, especially when one is a writer. After all, look at Papa Hemingway. He spent the better part of his writing years behind a bottle in the Florida Keys, his white beard and booze hiding the dilemma behind his facade. We all know what happened to him, and that’s not necessarily where all of us writer folk want to go. However, there is definitely something to character development and story flow when it’s done at 11 p.m. after a few drinks.

Most writers are fluid to begin with when it comes to ideas. We dream in colors so vivid that it’s hard to explain them sometimes. We can fear our own creativity or the lack thereof, which sometimes requires liquid courage as compensation. There is nothing too questionable after a few Coronas, and once the ideas barf themselves onto the page, we can say “nighty-night” and go out like a light. The next morning, we shall see the results of our binge writing-via alcohol evening.

It may surprise you that I do not write under the influence. In fact, if I do have a few drinks it’s well before I write (which starts around 9 p.m.). I’m usually somewhat sober and in good form for my words. It’s not that I haven’t written with a good buzz, though. Times like that, I tend to spell as bad as some of my day job coworkers (sorry, but your spelling sucks rocks). I prefer a clear mind that teeters on the edge of “what-if.”

So, how about you? Do you drink and write? Or do you write under the influence of chocolate? I’m curious to know.

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6 thoughts on “Drink To Think: Books, Booze and Writing

  1. People who know me are shocked to learn I do NOT drink before or during my writing times. It’s one of the few things I insist on doing stone sober (hope my boss isn’t reading this!) Why? Not because I have some puritanical need for sobriety but because that feeling – and we all know that blissful feeling – of coming out of a word-induced frenzy, where your mind has left your body and gone to a wholly different place – that feeling can only be grounded back into reality with a nice glass of something-something. Coffee may get you there but only wine will bring you back to something like human. Nice post, Julie. You’ll probably get a lot of crap for it, but not from me!

  2. Ah, crap for this? I have a lot of crap, so a bit more wouldn’t bother me too much! This post is borne from an observation of my peers. The stereotype of writers as alcoholics could prove true, but just the same as any other creative profession (hello musicians!). Becoming human again after a long day… yes, Merlot can help that!

  3. If a glass of wine here and there helps you unwind or free the crazy thoughts that so frequently get trapped in a reative mind then so be it. I’m not a proponent of writing while complety blitzed — far to many spelling, grammar, ploterrors to correct that way — but I’ve been known to indulge in heavy doses of caffine when I need to finsish a chapter or work through a diffiucly scene.

    1. I remember you telling me you had a pot of coffee going at midnight last year, in the middle of writing Cedar. Now that’s some dedication! Starbucks should honor you!

    1. Chocolate – the food of champion writers! For me, it depends on the day and how tired I am. Drinking and writing has worked on occasion, but I prefer the calm of the night and the soothing sounds of my iPod.

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