Writers and Substance Abuse

Today’s post is a pretty direct break from the usual informative tone of this blog. Every now and then, I plan on writing a more personal, whimsical post. What topic is more whimsical to write about than drugs?

For me, today is day 4 without caffeine. Cold turkey. It’s hard for me to even muster up the energy to post. EXTREME lethargy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

But enough about me. Writers and drugs. We’ve all heard the jokes about writers’ choice of diet, oftentimes a mixture of cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine, usually in a cycle, often in the middle of the night.

But is it really best for us?

I’m certainly no Puritan. I’m a former intern with the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit devoted to ending the drug war. I fully believe that what any individual decides to put in her/his own body is their own personal decision. However, all choices have consequences. Even for legal substances, like cigarettes, alcohol, or my drug of choice, caffeine.

As writers, I think that we often romanticize destruction, the world’s, others, and certainly our own. Many of us even think that one cannot write without engaging in excess. That’s a crutch. That’s a gimmick.

What makes good writing? Is it the alcohol, the cigarettes, the coffee? That’s doubtful. Go ahead and have a drink or a cup of coffee, even a smoke, but don’t let any substance master you. As a writer, you want to be in control. Getting hooked on any substance, whether heroin or caffeine, can wrestle that control from you.

Go ahead and write. I’m going to post this and then power through an hour of work on my screenplay. I sure wish I had some caffeine. Maybe some cigarettes. A bit of bourbon wouldn’t hurt either, come to think of it. πŸ˜‰

What’s your take? Do substances bring out your creativity or do they drag you down? I’d love to hear from you.

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