Creativity and Alcohol

Old 03-26-2015, 04:34 AM
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Creativity and Alcohol

Hello everyone. This is my first post, hopefully the first of many. I'm into day 2 of abstaining from alcohol and marijuana. I've been trying and failing to do so for the past 12 months - which has dented my confidence a little bit, to be honest.

I have just finished my second novel. All my previous creative writing has taken place while drinking (one bottle of good Merlot = 1000 plus words) and this novel is no different. It just really grates on me that I'm always telling myself to cut down or stop for awhile, but then I fail at it, masking the disappointment in delusion.

I come from a fairly heavy drug background and used to think that it was all recreational or for "idea generation". The truth is that I simply cannot stand for that anymore, given what I've seen and know - it has destroyed a lot of my friends, and although I seemingly walk away unscathed, I have been hurt too, sometimes by the mere fact that they are suffering.

Back to the alcohol: I'm having serious doubts whether I would enjoy the novel writing process as much without red wine. There's a place that you go to, a dream like state where the words seem almost pre-destined. I'm going to miss it, but in the meantime I'm going to stay sober.

Keep on flourishing ladies and gentlemen. We may not think it, but just by fighting this battle, we are flourishing.

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Old 03-26-2015, 04:41 AM
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Welcome to SR!

I think your creativity is and was always there. It might take a little more patience for it to flow, but I'm sure it will.

Good luck and glad to have you on board
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Old 03-26-2015, 04:42 AM
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Hi and welcome VH

I'm more a musician than a writer - I was never creative on alcohol but I *felt* I was on pot (I've changed my mind on that looking back at my old stuff now)

It took me a while to get back my muse.
I was flat out not drinking for a few months let alone writing stuff.

When my voice came back it was different - not better or worse - just different...but then I was different too.

I had to work harder for a while - I was a very lazy and undisciplined artist who only ever wrote in mad fits of passion before.

That changed - but I think learning discipline and working for my muse was actually a good thing. I've grown to love that too - there's a sense of achievement having to sweat a little

Like Patman said, the talent is there, in's not in the red wine or the pot.

I'm nearly 8 years sober now...I don't have to work quite so hard anymore - and I'm producing some of the best material of my life

you will too

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Old 03-26-2015, 05:24 AM
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Wow, thank you guys. You've made my day
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Old 03-26-2015, 05:57 AM
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The 'creativity comes from booze and drugs' myth is precisely a myth.

You will discover a deeper, more pure and incredible creativity in sobriety. It will take some time to open into it, but you will look back and realize how blunted your true creativity truly was from behind a haze.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:13 AM
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There was another thread on here listing famous artists and writers who did their best work after getting sober. Sorry I can't find it. Though a pop writer, Stephen King comes to mind who got sober very early in his career.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:20 AM
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I agree, I think that is your AV that leads you to believe you can only be creative while drinking. That's just not true. The creativity will still be there, but it may be a bit harder to access at the beginning, but you will be able to.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:20 AM
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Thanks for these posts, everybody. I'm a writer too.

At some point, I began to use alcohol (in part) to help with writing, to give me more ease and creativity... I thought the alcohol helped get the words down. Then I couldn't write without having alcohol in my system. Lots of it. Then I stopped writing. Nothing written in four years. Sober just over three weeks. I'm still not writing, but I'm hoping it will come back.

Not sure if this post will help, actually I doubt it will, but I thought I'd still share. Hope that's ok. Maybe it helps to know that you're not struggling alone?
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:21 AM
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I can totally relate. I'm not a creative writer, but my work does require creativity and innovation, especially with the scale of projects I take on. I totally know what you mean by it just "flows" with a few drinks in you.

Past couple 2.5 days while sober, I honestly haven't gotten anything done. I'm either running errands, sleeping, or reading stories on this board, which tends to keep the bottle away. Both nights I've cheated though, and have had a few drinks, which almost immediately puts me into work mode, and off I go.

The biggest problem with this is, you only have a small window to be productive. You said that 1 bottle of Merlot let's you bang out 1000 works like nothing, right? I bet after the second bottle productivity isn't quite there anymore, right? At least that's how it is for me. I can get a good few hours in, then I'm pretty much useless.

So tonight I sit here debating whether I should continue to taper, or just quit. Past 60 hours I've had about 400ml, which isn't great, but better than the 2500ml I would normally put down.

Sorry, no advice for this predicament, except to say I can totally relate.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:25 AM
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Welcome VanHarten nice to meet you i totally agree with D & Anna's posts
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:34 AM
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Hi Vanharten, oh gosh can I relate to that. Just the right amount of alcohol can really stimulate some great thoughts. My college roomates and myself used to talk about so many things while drinking, not hammered, just drinking. It was some of the most intellectually stimulating conversation we would have. My father and I would have somre pretty darn interesting conversations regarding world history, holocaust, and universe type stuff. We still do. But I know what you mean.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:38 AM
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I also subjectively felt that alcohol gave a boost to my productivity in the beginning, but the truth is that whatever I produced under the influence was lacking in quality. With time, drinking totally killed my motivation and getting anything done was a serious form of torture while drinking or hangover. I think it's similar with work and creativity as with life in general: we need to realize and learn new ways of functioning in sobriety. Give it a bit of time.
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Old 03-26-2015, 07:28 AM
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Hi and welcome!

I'm a writer and have had quite a bit of success, despite my drinking. Despite is the operative word: while I thought that I needed to drink in order to write, I realize now that was more habit of mind, than actual necessity. What I produce now is just as good (at least according to my agent), and more importantly, it is done with a calm and tranquil mind without the anxiety and angst that often came along with the drinking. So fabulous, too, to feel good every morning and able to work, vs. working in a binge/purge cycle, which I did before.
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Old 03-26-2015, 08:04 AM
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An interesting (and I think well rounded) article on the impact of alcohol on creative writing.

Does Alcohol Help Or Hurt Your Writing? | The Creative Penn
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Old 03-26-2015, 08:07 AM
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welcome van
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Old 03-26-2015, 08:39 AM
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Substance abusers can talk too much--yet with confidence. Sometimes less and better is more. My days of prematurely releasing raggedy creative products are over.

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Old 03-26-2015, 08:54 AM
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Thanks for the wise words, guys. It's a pleasure being a part of this forum.

TroyW, yes that sums up my day: productive for the first bottle, and then useless afterwards. Well, if useless implies smoking pot and "thinking", whilst waiting for everyone else to return from their day jobs, so I can start on that second bottle. It's a messed up cycle, because I'm basically stuck in a haze for the whole day. Good job on tapering off btw.

Mentium, thanks for that link. It gives one perspective. I read a Scot Fitzgerald biography last year and it really, really saddened me and ignited my first attempt to stop. Before this I was still under the impression that alcohol was okay, and I should only be weary of all the other stuff.

NicTes, I feel for you. Hang in there, like the others have said, the muse will return.

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Old 03-26-2015, 09:56 AM
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I am not a writer, and I suppose not really an artist, but I create. Don't know how to define myself but I make soap from scratch, I make jewelry, I sew, I make things out of nothing lol an artisan maybe? idk...anyway...I consider creativity an integral part of who I am. I found that I love creating when drinking, but as years progressed, there was more thinking and drinking and less actual creating. I had grand ideas that never came to fruition. At the end of my drinking, I had all but abandoned my creative endeavors. I quit drinking many years ago and my creativity came back stronger and more authentic than ever. It is easy for me to slip into the flow and come out hours later without realize that any time has passed at all. It's a beautiful space to be in! Even more beautiful that it is pure, and substance free. This will happen for you as well, I'm sure of it.
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Old 03-26-2015, 04:00 PM
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Welcome to the Forum!!
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Old 03-26-2015, 04:04 PM
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I think many artists still are raised with the old romantic myth that the creative spirit must be freed with the help of drugs or spirits - it's a pernicious and false doctrine
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