Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Hemingway famously said, “Write drunk; edit sober.” What are your thoughts on this approach? Does it work for you – either metaphorically or literally?
Jamie Wallace: I’m a little apprehensive about answering this one. Philosophically, I embrace Hemingway’s advice whole-heartedly – in the metaphorical sense. Truth be told, however, I don’t always follow it. I am chronically guilty of editing while writing. It’s a habit I am working on breaking, but which still plagues me on a daily basis.
I have also taken Hemingway’s advice in the literal sense. Well, perhaps not “drunk,” but definitely tipsy. There have been several occasions on which I have written a column or blog post after having a glass (or a glass-and-a-half) of an adult libation. I have been responsible enough to avoid hitting “publish” until I’ve had a chance to give the piece a thorough re-read.
I do not know if slight inebriation increases my actual creativity, but being under the influence definitely seems to loosen me up so that I am (much) less concerned about appearances and “shoulds” and the risk of offending anyone or even coming off as a little weird. I think those are all good attributes for a writer. Perhaps I should indulge Mr. Hemingway more often. Perhaps.
Diane MacKinnon: I’m not much of a drinker, and if I do have a glass of wine it tends to be while I’m cooking, so I haven’t had much experience with writing drunk, but I do remember being a better pool player after a beer, back in the day. Two beers, however, did nothing for my pool game, and I think the same would be true with writing.
I have had the experience of writing fast, without editing, and that feels wonderful. Usually I’m trying to capture something before it’s gone so I can’t take the time to edit and the results are always better than I expect. I think there’s definitely something to be said about losing one’s inhibitions, as long as you re-read before publishing.
Lisa J. Jackson: I think my best writing is the uncensored freehand – with a timer. I set the timer for 20 minutes, get a blank piece of paper and a pen, or perhaps my laptop, and just write or type until the timer goes off. No editing, no thinking, just getting whatever words onto the page that need to get out of my head. It’s quite a rush when it happens, and I do like feeling a bit lighter knowing I’ve made room for more words in my brain. <grin>
Wendy Thomas: Writing Drunk – a good idea? Good Lord – no it’s not a good idea. Ever. Writing is a skill, it’s disciplined. It’s work. Why on earth would you even attempt to approach it at anything less than the top of your game?