Benjamin Franklin, inventor, American hero, and ladies man. (Public domain image, available through Wikimedia Commons.
Writers: booze is your friend.
Well that got your attention, didn’t it?
In truth, though, it may not be your friend, but definitely mine. Calm down, calm down. Please don’t call the parenting groups on me, and please don’t chalk this up to, “Oh dear, Galfie’s gone and gotten himself shnockered.” I am not about to launch into a sermon to the world on the virtues of guzzling yourself into a gutter. I’m just about to wax philosophic on a certain trait of writing–I’m not a saucy drunk. As Benjamin Franklin said, after all, all things in moderation. Even moderation.
And there was a fellow that liked to share a drink.
Still with me? Good. Now let’s start making some sense.
Booze, and its like-minded if less fondly looked upon cousins (kids, don’t do drugs–I’ll wag a finger at you, most heartily), have long been a staple of the art. Oh hell, who am I kidding: of ART. Drop that “the” right out of there. Perhaps it is certain mental propensities amongst the artists in question, and in many cases you would be right, but the fact is these substances possess a quality very helpful to the creative side of people: the lowering of the inhibitions.
Man’s inclination is toward over-thinking. Our days are filled with stimuli assaulting us from all sides: chattering roommates, blaring car horns, social media bleepings, open browser windows, cell phone calls…it gets to be a little overwhelming, and as one goes down the list, it becomes easy to see why society these days has such a problem with focus. What we need–and hey, this part isn’t just for the creative among us here–is the ability to tune it all out. Some people have the ability to do that on their own. Truly focused, driven individuals, impervious to distraction.
To your face I say, “You lucky devils you.” Behind your back, I say the same thing…in less kindly terms.
The creative flow needs all the help it can get. A few drinks, a short meditation, even a few moments sitting and petting your dog (like this puppy here. See, this is why Ms. Emmie is destined to be a writing dynamo) can be enough to ease the over-flaring of the conscious, and let us sink into the subconscious flow of the creative. After all, that is where the inspiration lies. We need enough of that conscience, that overt logic, to formulate the details, the intricacies–outlines, chapters, and what have you, but the relaxed mind brings forth the flow. It lets us go and go, without constant second-guessing.
For those of us with annoying little fellows on our shoulders, that time of peace is invaluable.
That is not to say, however, that this methodology doesn’t have its flaws. Much as one may write while in this zone, it may be countered with heavy editing, heavy revisions later. Such is the tradeoff: suppressing the editor so the writer may thrive. Yet the important part has been achieved: the pressing of thoughts to paper. Ideas can always be revised, honed, perfected–but we must get them out and breathing our sweet air first. It is an all too difficult process when we attempt to birth them with hands already stained with doubt.
Deep breaths. That’s right–just relax. Those contractions are normal for the writing process.
Any breaking of water in this case however probably means you either, A. Drank too much, or B. should consult a physician. My condolences.
Of course, the simple fact is that this method isn’t for everyone. Some people need that over-abundance of logic. Some people work better when they’re constantly self-editing as they go along. The haze, the fuzzy nature of the relaxation–it actually shrouds their creativity in turn, instead of clearing the ground for it. Find what works for you.
But if you find you can’t get the world outside your head for an hour a day, just relax or go for a run, put on a little music and have yourself a drink or some steaming hot tea…and you just might ease your way into creative clarity.