Write Drunk. Edit Sober.
“Write drunk, edit sober,” is a famous quote (mis)attributed to Hemingway.
What does this actually mean? How can this wisdom contribute to you in your writing and creating?
WRITE DRUNK: especially in a first draft, let yourself off the leash, remove the filters, be willing to express yourself onto the page in a real, messy, surprise yourself kind of way.
When we’re drunk we tend to be uninhibited. We’re willing to choose things, say things, do things, be things, that we wouldn’t (necessarily) do if we weren’t under the influence.
What would it be like to WRITE from this uninhibited place?
I just read an article by a famous writer who talks about how this is an awful quote because it takes away from the work of the writer and feeds into the myths of the writing life as well as it condones addiction. I’m not condoning addiction, nor am I suggesting you actually must get drunk to write your best stuff.
I just know that through my own writing practice over the past couple of decades, I’ve discovered that when I’m willing to...
~ write through the highs and the lows...
~ write from the sludge of depression, doubt, anxiety, emotional addiction…
~ write from the bubbly highs of triumphs, attractions, celebrations and possibilities...
~ write from my head when it’s up my @ss...
~ write from my heart when it’s all a mess...
~ write those things I would never utter out loud to another human…
when I’m lowering my invisible barriers to myself and letting loose and letting go and letting it all out - damn! WOW! That’s when some real, raw, gold winds up on the page.
Only when we’re willing to really let go can we surprise ourself with our own writing.
Only when we’re willing to be transparent to ourselves can we be transparent on the page.
And that’s when… if those pages end up being read by others… our words shine through as truth; the kind of truth that has the power to inspire, empower, captivate, and wake up its readers.
EDITING SOBER: Don’t bring in your editor in the first round of your writing. Let your sober inner perfectionist, OCD super power, and eagle eyes go through in the second draft to edit; streamlining, correcting, flushing out, etc.
When you let the editor take the wheel when first sitting down to write, you may never get anything written: her demand for perfection is a big downer for creative messy surprise yourself kind of expression. Yet she has an important part to play in polishing your writing… just wait to unleash her onto the page AFTER you’ve written drunk. 😉
So whether you choose to actually drink a glass of wine or a cocktail the next time you sit down to unleash your words onto the page, remember: it’s not really about getting drunk.
Let this quote, whoever said it, inspire you to let go of inhibitions, let go of the editor, let go of trying to get anything right or avoid doing it wrong, and let loose.
Allow the raw, real, and exquisitely you pour forth onto the page.
I wonder what magic might unfold through you?