Writers Write is a comprehensive writing resource. In this post, Mia Botha shares 6 things alcohol taught her about writing.
[We recently posted about Writers of Substance (Abuse). Maybe this made Mia Botha think about writing and drinking. Maybe not. We hope you enjoy this post as much as we did.]
Once upon an evening I was struck by a thought. Yes, an entire thought. Downright miraculous I know. The thought? Writing is like alcohol. Eureka, right? This profound statement may have been the product of a combination of said alcohol and internal dialogue, a deadly combination to be sure.
6 Things Alcohol Taught Me About Writing
Let’s look it at like this.
- Spirits, being strong, are like verbs. They are the grown-ups of the party. A true sign of an experienced writer is the use of good strong verbs. They also get things moving. They add life to the party. And let’s be honest a good shot of a 12-year-old whiskey, just like a strong verb, can go far.
- Wine is like a noun. I am partial to wine. Wine is good. But as a struggling writer I can’t afford the stuff hand pressed by Tibetan monks from the 12 grapes picked off the vine that grows around 12 000 year old Buddha statues at the foot hills of Himalaya. So, I keep it simple. I say face, not visage. I say book, not tome. A good noun is a writer’s friend.
- Beer, on the other hand, gets people to interact. Beers are joiners and are considered the conjunctions. They are not threatening; you can pace yourself on these. They get people together. I personally don’t like beer and tend to end up with lots of fragments and short sentences. This is not all bad, but maybe I should try to expand my liquid horizons a little.
- Cocktails are like metaphors. They are combination of two previously unrelated things. Sometimes they are new and truly inspiring, but sometimes they are clichés. Use these with caution. They creep up on you. Really, trust me on this.
- Shooters are like adjectives. Just think of the name Springbokkie, B-51 or Suitcase. You got a little nauseous just reading those names, because somewhere in your misspent youth these featured rather prominently. They always start out as fun. The first one isn’t all bad, so you have another and another and before you know it you have an entire novel full of deadly adjectives that will make you sick to your stomach.
- Tequila. Adverbs are the tequila of writing. Why does tequila get its own category? Because tequila is pure poison. It is the distilled urine of Satan. Don’t go there. Ever. There is no such thing as only one tequila. You always end up having more than one, just like adverbs. Let one in and soon your manuscript will be flooded. You will wake up the next morning, unable to remember almost anything about the night before, and you will want to die. Or shred your manuscript. Adverbs suck the life out of prose.
So, if you want to keep your head and your writing out of the toilet, stick to the good stuff. Be careful though, writing too much is a good thing. Drinking too much is just stupid. And neither, should be attempted while driving.
A note: Keep in mind for every successful alcoholic writer there are at least twenty successful writers who don’t drink too much. Everything in moderation.
by Mia Botha
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