Tell this to the friend who tries to take your phone away at 3am.
You’ve had a few mixed drinks and suddenly feel compelled to write that snarky text to your ex who’s still using your Hulu password. Jerk.
But should you?
Recent studies by an Australian writing blog found that, yes, you should — with one crucial caveat.
The team at The Expert Editor sought to determine whether the phrase “Write drunk, edit sober” holds true in everyday situations. To do it, they asked 40 men to solve word puzzles. Half the group was sober and the other half had had three or four drinks each. In the end, the buzzed group successfully solved more of the word puzzles — and did so in less time than the sober group.
The Expert Editor also did an experiment involving advertising creatives coming up with ideas for engaging ad campaigns. Again, the drunk people performed better than the sober ones.
In both experiments, The Expert Editor found that alcohol boosts creativity by depressing certain responses in the brain. It impedes the brain’s executive process and memory, causing us to become less focused and less aware of our surroundings. That’s not a bad thing for creativity though, because when this happens, it boosts imagination and ability to think outside the box. That’s why you’re suddenly able to make up a million insulting names for your ex that you never would have thought of sober.
Before you go pound three Long Island ice teas to craft the ultimate revenge text though, the Expert Editor’s infographic reveals that being tipsy—not drunk—is the creative sweet spot. Having any more than two or three drinks will hinder your creative abilities.
So here’s the caveat: if you feel compelled to let it all out, you should compose your thoughts in a note and go back and edit it while sober—because along with drunk driving, drunk editing is a major no-no.
When you wake up and edit your thoughts, The Expert Editor says to have a cup of coffee to stimulate your creative editing process. Coffee has the opposite effect of alcohol, so it will improve working memory and help you focus.
Long story short, write tipsy, edit with coffee. Here’s the full infographic exploring Hemingway’s famous phrase below:
Oh, and also — as The Expert Editor points out — Hemingway probably never said that thing about writing drunk and editing sober.