Writing Under the Influence

If you just don’t take advantage of anything that messes with your state of mind ever, feel free to skip this. (Mostly I’ll be discussing alcohol and caffeine.)

For the rest of you….

Okay, so I’m definitely not saying you should do this. I imagine you’ll want both hands to type things, as a matter of fact. But what about other mind-altering substances like caffeine? (It makes significant changes to blood flow. It counts.)


Alcohol avoiders skip this one
For starters, I don’t know about you–but I don’t drink alone. So my only data for how I write while inebriated involves one time when I got bored of hanging out…long story short, it wasn’t very exciting.

Let’s look at what being (coherently) drunk does to you. It reduces inhibitions. So, if there’s something you’re nervous about writing–say, gay porn–this is a great time to try it!

But, in the end, you’re going to have to edit it all anyway. And the process of editing is guaranteed to bring your work back to your sober voice (it only seemed like a good idea then…). Conclusion: alcohol might help your ideas, but it’s not going to give you a whole new style. And, really, who wants to ruin a perfectly good buzz by plopping down in front of the computer?


Caffeine. I tend to avoid it. I’m oddly hyperreactive–the few times it’s worked, I’ve gotten half an hour of solid work followed by all sorts of amusing and disturbing side effects.

But caffeine sucks the soul and the fun out of writing. It’s useful when there’s a need to get a lot done quickly, like in case of a deadline or something. Otherwise…I don’t see the point. Why make use of a stimulant that’s designed to speed you up? Writing should be a relaxed endeavor, something that takes its own time and meanders as necessary. It’s good to set goals, of course–without goals I’d never finish anything–but forcing oneself to stay up too late, get up too early, or just work in a supercondensed block of time is too much.

…If I ever try anything else, I’ll add it here.


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