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[personal profile] jhepburn
It's advice that floats around and occasionally bobs up to the surface like a fruit fly in a glass of beer.

But why?

Not the edit sober part - if you can't understand why you should edit sober rather than drunk, you need to learn a lot more about editing.

But why write drunk? Is it only that writers are expected to be perpetually drunk but should sober up to edit? (And that may or may not be, you know, a valid possibility, we certainly seem to talk about it a lot. Follow a writer on twitter for a week, and you have some idea of his or her preferred beverage.)

Or is there something about writing drunk that is an advantage over writing sober?

Well, there are three basic reactions to having a drink that are relevant to this discussion - get sleepy (bad), experience an uncontrollable desire to play loud music and dance (counterproductive), or experience a sloughing away of all mental blocks, controls and inhibitions that result in a massive outpouring of creativity provided you can hit the right keys, grip the pen properly, turn the recorder on and, the next morning, while sober, understand what it was that you said.

And that's the key part about writing drunk. You start to care less. As somebody or other said, "You can edit shit, but you can't edit nothing." You have to "Keep the cursor moving to the right" (just about everybody) so that you have something down on paper - you can change it, or throw it out and start again with the realisation that you need to avoid doing that next time, which is in itself a valuable lesson, or you can leave it there for the next complete edit in a month. Or next week. Or when your head stops pounding, you can stand up without shaking and you can afford to be more than ten metres from a toilet.

Take last night - after slowly starting something I wasn't quite sure about that was going to be a novella length story, I sat down in front of 1,800 words and accidentally wrote about 3,000 words and finished it up as a contained short story because it clearly wasn't going to work for the target market. Then, I accidentally wrote another 2,000 words of another story, before going to bed.

And thank you, homebrew pear cider.

Writing drunk is not always a good idea - you need to avoid cirrhosis of the liver or Korsakoff's syndrome, for a start - but damn it can help you get over literary blocks.
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