Guest Post: Writing Drunk and Editing Sober

It’s Guest Post Week! Today we might not have gotten Hemmingway, but we got the closest thing we could find in Joshua Ens.

Well its time for my own piece to appear on this website. Since this blog typically works on life experiences mixed with a bit of writing, I decided to write about two things I know best about writing, creativity and alcohol. In my own website and indeed my own twitter tag, I have constantly been “Bridging the gaps between politics, youths, video games, literature and borderline alcoholism.” This phrase was coined by Remy himself and in fact tends to represent how I write my pieces. This entire editorial shall be written while under a heavy influence of alcohol. There will be no grammatical edits the next day, nor a rewrite or two; this is simply me writing to you as I write best, drunk out of my mind.

For the longest time mind altering substances have had a place in our society, legal or illegal. Whether it is Native Americans smoking their pipe before a meeting or Vincent Van Gogh consulting the ‘green fairy’ of absinthe for his own inspiration, we tend to discover new and exciting creative leaps while under the influence of some kind of substance. The answer for this is quite simple; while under the influence, we see things differently, we think different and these things can either combine into something completely stupid and irrelevant, or with the right ratios, some piece of beauty can be created.

However these kinds of things most of you already know; what I’m going to talk about for most of this piece is how it affects me, what alcohol does to my own creative process and why I’m drunk so damned much when I want to write. While drunk, the world twists itself in ways that are unconventional, unusual and individual to my own mind. This helps me in my world creation, the interesting aspects being drawn from the strange thoughts that enter my mind.

Characters are also easier in an inebriated state of mind; the parodies of various stereotypes are easier for me to think of while drunk and the more three dimensional characters can be drawn by the vices I find myself drawn into. Character creation, in this manner is more of a rough sketch, the refinements of such characters do happen while sober, but the general magic, the first spree? That does occur while drinking.

But what about plots? Well this one should be more obvious than the first two. Plots are fabricated from the fantastic or the mundane. Fantastical plots are easy enough to create while drunk, the mind does think strange things while under the influence after all, but little do you know what strange, sobering stories stem from the recesses of a drunken mind. While you may also think of the stories that make your drunk friends go, “That’s like so totally deep man,” you also learn to explore other elements such as social environments, violence and human psychology and sociology. Watching people at bars and clubs is one way to discover the dark side of human nature.

When it comes to the writing process, words appear on the page quicker. Ernest Hemmingway said it best, “Write drunk and edit sober,” and I find these words particularly enlightening in my experience. While intoxicated, you’re not scared of trying new styles of writing, experimenting with new formulas and deviating from your norm, something that few writers even do. While its important to remain skilful in your craft, writing what you know all the time gets you nowhere; one must be willing to innovate and experiment with their works to create something new and different and intoxication allows you to do that without the stress of potentially messing up your works.

So what can we say at the end of this piece? Well obviously that this kind of writing style isn’t for everyone, but then again what writing style is? What’s important and what you should take from this story is not how I write my stories and pieces, but rather that each style is distinct and individual from another; you should take that the unconventional works just as often as the conventional and most important of all, that we should not restrict our writing. Alcohol allows me to avoid that last point, but it may not be the same for you.

I’m not going to claim that everyone is going to be the next King, or Martin or Tolkien, but I also won’t pretend that there isn’t potential is most writers that simply put pen to paper. There is always potential if one learns how they write, like with any skill, practice is key.

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