The quotation, “Write drunk, edit sober,” is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, but there’s much dispute as to whether (and when) he actually said it.
There’s also plenty of conjecture as to whether he practiced it.
Still, for some boozy writers and creative types, the advice is part of their technique.
Is it really a good idea?
Google the phrase, and the first link that pops up is a blog post from writer Jeff Goins. He’s decidedly against what the phrase represents—a certain level of forgiveness for addiction among artists. He writes:
You would never nod understandingly if a plumber came to your house, completely wasted, assuring you he’d return to clean up the mess when sober. That would be ridiculous.
But we do this every day with the arts, taking them less seriously than we do other trades. We excuse addiction or obsession as part of the process, not fully understanding the implications of such allowances.
So, Goins thinks writing drunk (and editing sober) is a bad idea. I can’t say I’ve ever really gotten much work done (if any) after a cocktail.
That’s not to say the technique should be ignored completely. As corporate communicators, we can find ourselves stuck in creative ruts. Perhaps writing drunk (or tipsy) and editing sober could be a way to unlock some creative recesses long dormant.
If you’re going to explore this route, don’t be an idiot. Follow the advice in this infographic from The Expert Editor: