May 14, 2009

Drinking and Creativity

The British magazine Prospect has an article entitled "I drink, therefore I can." The article discusses research that suggests some creative people such as Mark Twain might have had a gene mutation that allowed them to process alcohol differently, possibly fueling their creativity. The study is in no way conclusive or definitive, but it's interesting to think about.

If this gene mutation works the way researchers suspect, I probably don't have it. While I enjoy the taste of alcohol, I've never found it pleasant to be drunk. Not only that, but drinking certainly doesn't make me more creative - in fact I can barely work at all.

Looking back, I find that the periods in my life when I drank the most heavily were the ones where I was also the least productive in terms of my literary output. However, I think there are two sides to that story. Yes, drinking makes it difficult for me to work. But I think I was drinking more because I was frustrated with my life, and the fact that the work I was doing at the time was infringing on my creativity in other ways. I was drinking because I was frustrated, but in a way, alcohol probably only aggravated that frustration, because I was already struggling with my creative writing, and getting drunk with friends certainly didn't help.

What are your relationships to creativity and alcohol? Other drugs?

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