Write Drunk, Edit Sober: Seems Legit

Oh, the glamour of it all! The life of a young writer:

  1. Go to your “Contemporary Literature of the Early 1st Century” lecture (you probably haven’t heard of it)
  2.  Come home to double fist black coffee in a artisan mug and PBR in the other.
  3.  Approach your hand-crafted “shabby chic” desk and grip your quill.
  4.  Proceed to take turns sipping each glorious beverage until you have reached the pinnacle of the writer’s process.
  5. Sober up just in time to edit your assignment before class the next morning.

No, no, no.

The quote “Write drunk, edit sober” is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway. And hey, Ernest Hemingway was great! Advice from a Nobel Peace prize Winner? Must be real talk.

Except for two things: one, Hemingway was an alcoholic. He suffered from an addiction; that isn’t something to be glorified. And two: he never, ever wrote while under the influence of alcohol, according to his granddaughter Mariel Hemingway.

 Yeah, he's hip. But yeah, he's judging you. Get it together.
Yeah, he’s hip. But yeah, he’s judging you. His eyes scream, “Get it together.” 

In fact, she says that he would rise early and “never wrote beyond early, early morning.”

The quote actually is a paraphrasing of a line in a book by Peter De Vries; a man once known as one of the funniest writers in history who then all but disappeared by the seventies. In his “manic epic” Reuben, Reuben he follows the life of a character that is a journalist (and a drunkard).

“Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”

However, by and large, this is not the correct way to create. Mariel Hemingway says that this pairing of writing and alcohol enforces “the misperception of addiction and living life on the edge, as if it’s cool. ”

What it all comes down to is this: do your research, do your work, and for God’s sake put down the cheap bottle of twist-off chianti that you found bogo at Publix. At the bottom of the bottle, all you’ll find is a sticky price tag, not your next best-selling dystopic-futuristic-teen-vampire-romance.






One thought on “Write Drunk, Edit Sober: Seems Legit

  1. daydreambeliever95 March 5, 2015 / 10:24 pm

    This post just made my life. I enjoy Hemmingway’s works to a point, but he was not necessarily a great role model in the lifestyle department. Also, I loved your statement about creative work. It is a process that has a sense of clean purity about it, and I think it requires some level of respect. I highly doubt there are many highly successful works that came about from the author being absolutely hammered.


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