There’s a quote that is often falsely attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “write drunk; edit sober.”
While there are plenty of great Ernest Hemingway quotes, this isn’t one that he came up with. In fact, the origin of this quote is unknown. Nevertheless, there is some degree of wisdom behind it.
Why Writers Really Should Write Drunk and Edit Sober
Like many memorable writing tips, “write dunk; edit sober” has a small degree of sensationalism to it. After all, getting completely sloshed before you get behind the keyboard probably isn’t going to yield great results. However, there is some value in the stream-of-conscious style of writing that a little bit of inebriation seems to enable.
One of the most difficult aspects of writing is actually getting your thoughts down on paper (or in pixels on a screen). Once you have everything written down, it’s much easier to prune and shape it into something great with a little focused editing. Many writers tend to get bogged down with wanting the very first lines they write to be perfect, which can lead to a lot of frustrating time spent staring at a blank screen.
Whether or not you choose to use a few adult beverages to get your creative juices flowing and push past your writer’s block is entirely up to you. However, getting one’s thoughts down uninhibited by concerns about their quality is a lesson that many writers could learn. So if a glass (or multiple glasses; we won’t judge) of wine is what it takes to achieve this, then feel no shame. Just make sure to sober up before it comes time to edit.
About the author
Since John A was a child, writing has been his passion. Through years of exploring this passion, wielding the powers of the written word has become something that he has come to excel at. To date, he has published four science-fiction novels, works full-time as a professional copywriter, and has risen to be one of the most well-reviewed freelance writers across a variety of online platforms.