Picture the scene.
You’ve been out for a meal with friends. Good food, plenty of drink, great company. You’ve had a wonderful time.
You go home and crack open a bottle of wine. A couple of glasses later you think of something really clever. Or profound. Or funny. Or revolutionary. Or life-changing.
I know, you think, let me share this with Twitter.
This, of course, is the worst thing you can do.
We all like to believe we’re brilliant when we’re drunk. The reality is as much as we like to think we’re being insightful or hilarious or simply amazing whilst intoxicated, or even a little merry, most of the time – the vast, vast majority – we’re being complete arses. Dullards. Idiots.
However (and here’s the paradoxical, glittering lure): many times people do their best thinking whilst a little under the influence. Sometimes well under the influence. Certainly the history of great literature is paved with many wondrous examples of people being off their heads when they first put pen to paper. Alcohol removes inhibitions and boosts confidence, relaxes the body and soul, and can often have an enormously productive influence on creativity.
What’s that? You need some examples? How about Hunter S. Thompson, Tennessee Williams, Dylan Thomas, Dorothy Parker, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Bukowski, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, Christopher Hitchens, John Cheever and Ernest Hemingway? Believe me: between them they have at least one good book. As Kerouac said, “As I grew older I became a drunk. Why? Because I like ecstasy of the mind.”
Sometimes, the original concepts, narratives and screenplays of these fine authors actually became the final draft that went to print, relatively unscathed. But these are exceptions. The cold reality is most of those first drafts range somewhere between messy, streams of consciousness to complete gibberish. And it rarely ends well for those who persist on working this way.
“Write drunk, edit sober,” wrote Hemingway. And he certainly delivered on that front. But we don’t get that luxury on Twitter. Once we write, it’s out there. You can’t edit. You can delete, but by then it’s often too late. The damage is done.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink. And I’m not saying you should (although if you don’t, try it, it’s fun). I’m just saying that when you do, take the time to collect your thoughts before putting them online. Sleep on it. Give it room to breathe. If the idea is genuinely good, you’ll be in a better position to evaluate its merits and pitch it accordingly. And that’s a win for everybody.
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