“Write drunk; edit sober”
Nathan Kontny

I know the question was posed with the quote as an example of something “other” but I have really tried the “write drunk, edit sober” ethos. Now this was an easy experiment for me to undertake. I enjoy a glass of red wine or five on occasion and I like to write. Initially I tried writing a section of the book I was working on, slowly imbibing more and more as I wrote. It did not work at all. I was writing well at first but after three glasses of wine, the story started shooting off in odd directions (not all of them bad) and in the end it took so long to get the story back on track that all the time gained was lost in editing.

I then tried drinking but limiting myself to two glasses of Red wine on the next section of the story. This worked rather well, surprisingly well in fact.

I found myself more focused, the writing flowed well and though there were a few silly mistakes, they were easily edited out the next day. So I suspect that this actually helps even if there are a few down sides, the first, you really have to stop drinking after the second glass no matter how much you fancy another. The second, You can quickly become sleepy Third, I write every day and if I were to continue in this way I would end up with a drink problem. I like drinking far too much to ever wish for it to become a problem.

Lastly and here is the weird one. One night to truly test this theory, after being out at friends for the evening and already three sheets to the wind. I sat down at two in the morning to write a story. I had no idea of the tale I was going to write, I just sat and started typing. At five in the morning, story complete, I retired to bed. The next morning I started reading it, barely even remembering what the story was about. It was littered with spelling mistakes, bad grammar and badly designed sentences but there was something about it I liked. So I worked on it (soberly) and eventually it was finished.

It was very different from most of my writing but it appealed to me. I sent it off as an entry to “The Guardian” short fiction competition where it cam third earning me some money and a great deal of Kudos. Take from this what you will but perhaps Hemingway (if indeed the quote is correctly attributed) was right.

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