Most great writers have been keen for various alcoholic substances which, they say, enhances their wordsmithing. Many of those writers even went a little too far and burned out their brain doing so, but in their ashes remains a piece of solid advice: write drunk, edit sober.
While I can’t say that I’ve done things like DMT or black tar heroin before sitting down to write, nor do I even intend to, I do have my own personal experiences and experiments using alcohol and marijuana. However, the effectiveness of this advice ultimately comes down to how your own mental board is wired. We are all special snowflakes with different neurology. A nice scotch or whisky might get the creative juices flowing for one man while a little toke will do the same for another. The key is to know your mental requirements, limitations, and tolerances.
Alcohol is best for minds that are naturally overclocked. If you’re the kind of person that has a thousand thoughts always bumping around in your head and you just need to relax a bit, slow things down while you write to collect those thoughts, then alcohol is likely going to be your best bet. The dosage depends on your mental RPM’s and how far they need to come down. A little can go a long way while too much, in my experience, makes for clumsy hands and a lazy mind.
Getting hammered likely isn’t going to lead to spectacular results, unless you’re doing some postmodern stream of consciousness art piece without punctuation *Cough Jack Kerouac Cough*.
Speaking of, Kerouac died of internal hemorrhaging from alcohol abuse. So play with fire carefully there, Prometheus.
Marijuana is going to have the opposite effect; it is going to turbocharge your thoughts and send them out in random directions. For the creative type who is intent on experimenting with weed, a sativa strain is going to be your method of choice because it is going to be more of a mental stimulant than an indica, which is more of a somatic depressant.
If you’re the kind of person who is a slower, more calculating thinker who often runs into trouble conjuring that one word or can’t seem to phrase a sentence right, or can’t maintain a solid pace of ideas then a little bit of weed might help. Again, that’s a little bit of weed, because too much will send you right to the couch without motivation or focus to write, or, most likely, you will think you’re being clever as hell when your writing is actually stupid and juvenile – and that’s an accurate, personal claim.
Marijuana is better when you’re in the mood to just sit and brainstorm. If you’re looking for ideas, weed more than alcohol is going to give you those ideas. Now, 90% of those are shitty ideas, but a good 10% are true inspiration, and a 10% output on weed produces a greater quantity of useful ideas than an 80% output sober. Just make sure you write them down so you don’t forget, otherwise you WILL forget.
That being said, I personally get the entirety of my writing done while sober, including this post, because I don’t have an issue with my brain running too fast or slow. For me, I write about as fast as I think, without need for additional help.
To anyone else who can write sober, my advice to you is: don’t fix what isn’t broken. If your sober mind can work wonders in the craft then don’t take on the additional challenge of other substances; they are simply not going to help the process. Stick to what works for you and don’t feel obligated to change functional brain chemistry just because some schmuck on the internet told you so.
This is particularly important in the editing stage because the required thinking is methodical, analytical, and critical, like working out a math problem, thus it requires a different set of brainpowers than the creative state you require when putting ink to your first draft.
When you add alcohol or weed into the editing process you’re going to miss a lot of things, and the things you correct will likely come with more mistakes than the original. While you can treat the first draft as exploratory fun, the editing stage is the real work.
Alcohol and marijuana aren’t magical cure-alls for your creative slump. If your writing habits are already terrible then adding substances into the mix isn’t going to help you, at all. Your first goal should be in setting up good habits first, practicing, reading, and if you need some extra help then a chemical assist is worth trying. Remember to keep dosage in mind, as getting too drunk or high on anything is going to torpedo your creative process, not aid it.
If you have no such deficiency then don’t bother treading those waters. Feel free to experiment a little, but always return to what works for you.