If you go through life free of bad habits, you won’t live forever, but it will feel like it.
In my neverending research into what makes a good writer, rather than me actually writing, a number of things began to present themselves about the way authors conduct themselves these days, certainly as opposed to the lives some of our predecessors. These days the early life of the writer is mostly disciplined and planned by demanding publishers. Especially when there are twenty authors waiting for their shot should one get a little too big for their britches after their first success. Back in the day there were certain vices that would sometimes give you the creative edge, such as:
1. BE A DRINKER
Winston Churchill, as I’ve mentioned before, was a great fan of the booze. Champagne, Cognac, Gin, Beer, Cocktails etc. He seemed to have commanded the British forces whilst he was three sheets to the wind. He even remarked that he had taken more out of alcohol than alcohol had taken out of him. He, like many others, saw the sauce as a tool that fed the muse and encouraged the more random elements of social interaction. Hemingway saw it as a brain changer, a different plane to walk upon after traversing the typewriter keys all day.
Of course this method isn’t for everyone. Some may not have the constitution to live within such a physically damaging regime. However, those with the control over their vice and their muse may be able to pull it off. Mark Twain, for example, was a huge drinker but would go dry for weeks to prove to his detractors that he was the one that was in control of his loosening regime. However, you have to make the choice relatively early on whether to be a social drinker or a hidden tippler. Those who revel in the rich context of detailed characterisation need the succour of other people in which to finely hone their craft. F. Scott Fitzgerald would throw wild parties in which to observe and interact with others. His guests included luminaries such as Dorothy Parker and Gloria Swanson.
So where does that leave us? The odd tipple in the afternoon? What about the school run and the daily grind? Drinking and the obvious need to live ones life is incompatible unless you have an army of servants or a VERY understanding partner. But what of the occasional snifter? A wee dram every now and again? Getting a little tipsy of a weekend? Well fine if you’re in the full control of your capabilities but not when you’re torn in the turmoil of a writer’s block or some other such emotional distress. Alcohol can be a cruel mistress and a difficult one to stay on top of.
You have a choice though, a bender every now and again may loosen the words inside you, for want of better vice, and you’d be in very distinguished company.