Creative types, especially copywriters (and writers in general) are always looking for that special edge that will boost their creativity. A topic that comes up quite frequently is whether or not alcohol will improve their creative writing.
This topic isn't so far out there. Some of the greatest writers in history: Hemmingway, London, Chandler, Parker, Poe and plenty more were known alcoholics. Now it's debatable whether or not they drank to improve their writing, or they drank to escape their personal demons (my guess would be the latter), but there has always been an association with drinking and genius-level writing.
I recently had a conversation about this, not ironically at a bar, with a couple of fellow copywriters, so I thought to share my own personal views and practices with respect to alcohol and writing copy in this blog post.
Just note that I’m not a scientist, nor an expert in biochemistry by any means. All I can offer you is my personal experience and point of view as an experienced marketing copywriter and author. And for all you employed copywriters and marketing professionals eager to convince your boss that you should crack open a cold one on the job because of what you read here - Heck no....you don't have permission to print off this blog post to show to your boss. If you want to drink on the job, then you're going to have to go freelance :-D
I Enjoy an Occasional Glass of Wine When I Write
I'm not going to lie. I do enjoy a glass or two of quality red wine, usually a cab, on occasion when I'm writing. Why red wine? Well, to tell you the truth, I'm actually more of a beer guy, but "laboratory testing" (a.k.a. my office) has demonstrated the fact that beer doesn't give me the focus that red wine provides me. I believe this to be a personal preference though. Perhaps at the sub-conscious level, I associate beer with kicking off my shoes and watching a football game or hanging out at the bar, while I associate red wine with quiet, thoughtful moments. Whatever the case may be, I've found that red wine helps improve my writing in situations where I'm having trouble getting into the writing zone.
So do I Always Drink When I Write?
I don't drink wine every time I write copy for the same reason that I don't drink coffee every morning. If you do something enough times, it tends to become a habit and I don't have any desire to go the way of Ernest Hemmingway. I'll have a glass or two of red wine while writing when I'm feeling it difficult to relax, focus or get into the writing zone. Again, through my personal testing, I've found that 1-2 glasses of red wine improves my concentration and gets rid of those "self-editors," that blocks my free-flow of ideas.
Diminished Returns After 2 Drinks
The law of diminishing returns holds true when it comes to drinking and writing. Any more than two glasses of red wine will send my writing productivity spiraling downhill pretty fast, so that's where I personally cut myself off.
What About Other Creativity-Enhancing Substances?
Sorry, I don’t have any experience there, so you’ll have to ask someone else.