daily californian logo


Apply to The Daily Californian!

Get lit(erary): Why writing drunk could save your grade

article image



We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

MARCH 22, 2018

One thing I appreciate about being a copy editor is never having to face the dreaded writer’s block — all of the content I’m working with is already finished and ready for me to edit when I show up at the Daily Cal office. I may face a momentary pause as I contemplate what the most appropriate headline might be for a piece or how to fit all the critical information into a photo caption, but I’m never left sitting for hours unsure of how to continue my writing or even how to start or what to write about in the first place.

One piece of advice that a wise person once told me about how to conquer writer’s block — but that I’ve been wary about actually putting into practice — is that old maxim, “Write drunk, edit sober.” I’ve always kept it in mind as something that I eventually plan on doing as an experiment. But whenever the time comes to actually write something, I’m usually up until 4 a.m. beginning a 10-page paper due the next day and continuing to work on it moments before I have to turn it in. Needless to say, getting inebriated is simply not something I consider doing in those moments.

I’ve always been curious about this phenomenon, though, and while I’m not exactly suggesting that you get drunk to write all of your essays, the research I’ve done on this topic seems to show that it’s not such a bad idea.

Why might writing under the influence be helpful? Well, for one thing, alcohol depresses the normal responses of our brain functions and misdirects communication between different parts of the brain, which makes you form odd and unique sensations — resulting in you being a fun time at parties or creative while composing an essay! Also, just think about how much easier we find conversation when we’re drunk. As long as you aren’t so plastered that your fingers are too uncoordinated to hit the keyboard, it makes sense that you would be more verbose on paper as well.

The key thing seems to be moderation — think three-ish drinks. You should definitely be feelin’ it, but not enough that the screen is blurring. After the first few drinks have been consumed and you’re in your creativity sweet spot, continue to drink slowly for “maintenance.” If your blood alcohol content has exceeded .08, your ideas will definitely not be as good, funny or interesting as you think they are, and you need to stop writing.

So if you’re feeling the FOMO in a big way because it’s Thursday night and all your friends are going out and you have an essay to write on a topic you don’t care about at all, do not feel guilty about throwing one back!

But you didn’t hear it from me.

Contact Audrey Chapman at [email protected]

APRIL 13, 2018