10 Tips for Writing Intoxicated


All over the Internet Ernest Hemingway is attributed to have said , “Write drunk, edit sober.” That quote may not be his and maybe he never wrote drunk. Some say it’s bad advice. But if you are a writer and inclined to imbibe while writing, I’ve developed some tips that will help you along.


1.  No Editing

The first thing you need to remember is that you write drunk and edit sober. Don’t get cocky and decide you can edit the shit out of your manuscript drunk. You need balance in your writing. If you want to be daring then experiment with reversing the process, that is, write sober and edit drunk. But take heed to tip #10.

2. Pantsers v. Plotters

Writing drunk is appropriate for pantsers and plotters. For those who are plotters, pull out your outline and just try your best to follow it. If you can’t remember where you put your outline, then congratulations you are now a pantser! Just write whatever comes into your head. I’m sure it will work out.

3. Choose alcohol that goes with your genre

It’s all about the experiencing the moment. You don’t drink tequila shots when writing a romance novel. That’s just inviting disaster. Choose your alcohol carefully. A nice Bordeaux is well suited for romance writers. YA writers should stick to something like hard lemonade. A nice ale would go very well with a Brit mystery book. You get the picture. One word of advice. If you’re doing a 60’s counter culture period piece, maybe  booze isn’t right for you. You may need to get some weed.

4. No mixing

You know how they say drinking different types of alcohol will make you sick? Well that’s nonsense. The amount of alcohol you consume is what makes you sick. Switching drinks often leads to excessive drinking. So go ahead and mix drinks; unless you are writing and drinking. Mixing alcohol is like mixing genres. It often isn’t going to work out. Can you envision a YA erotic murder mystery set in Elizabethan England? Me neither. You’re going to have a mess. So stick to one genre and an appropriate drink.

5. Pacing is important

As most writers know pacing is a tool that controls the speed and rhythm at which a story is told and the readers are pulled through the events. If you are drinking and writing then you will need to keep in mind another form of pacing – how quickly you are drinking. Too slow a pace and you never become intoxicated. And that’s the point of drinking. Too fast of a pace and you either pass out or get sick. Neither will help you achieve your word count.

6. Choose the right snacks

You know how bars serve you salty snacks to get you to drink more? Well don’t do it while you write. Choose your snacks wisely. Stay away from chips, salted nuts and salty cheeses. You want veggies, unsalted nuts and dried fruit. Eating salty foods can throw you off your pace and end badly.

7. Location, location, location

You need to choose your location wisely. For obvious reasons, you need to have a functioning washroom close by. That means a few steps away, not take a jog down this path at night, turn left at the red fence post and behind the 4th barn is an outhouse. If you’re not writing at home, you better think about how you’re going to get home. You’re going to be hammered by the end of the writing session. So, either you can crash close by or someone is driving you home. You can drink and write but you can’t drink and drive.

8. What to do if you pass out

If you have been diligent in following the previous steps, then you shouldn’t be too concerned about passing out. But you still need to have a contingency plan. Have someone available who can save your work and secure your laptop. You don’t want to be losing your work. This applies to drinking and writing at home and outside your home.

9. What about tweeting drunk?

There will always be the temptation to get onto social media and rant about what’s wrong with the world. As alcohol washes away your inhibitions, that temptation will be greater. You can’t be tweeting about how awful your boss is, how lit agents are scum, etc. Sure you can delete your tweets when you’re sober. But if the tweets have gone viral while you sleep it off, the damage will have been done. Stay off of Twitter and just focus on writing.

10. Publish sober

Writing while intoxicated? Sure. Editing while intoxicated? Maybe. Publishing or posting while intoxicated? NOOOO! That’s why you need to stay off social media. That’s why they have a Senate in the U.S. and Canada. They are referred to chambers of  “sober second thought.” Publishing requires proper, careful consideration before finally going public.

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