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View Full Version : Does an altered state of consciousness = creativity unleashed?



talking to myself
04-20-2011, 09:16 PM
Hi everyone -

At work. Lunchtime.

There is an older thread here somewhere that polled AWWC SSS mavens about drug use.

It occurred to me: I'd love to see a poll that asks whether you believe [your personal] drug use/method of attaining an altered state of consciousness enhances your writing creativity. AND a poll that connects writing success with drug use would be slick.

I mean, let's face it. It worked for the Beatles, The Stones, etc., etc...

Disclaimer: I am not in any way condoning or promoting the use of illegal substances.

blacbird
04-20-2011, 09:22 PM
I dunno. Let me check, and I'll get back to you.

sunandshadow
04-20-2011, 09:53 PM
I keep wondering what happens if you hypnotize someone and tell them to write a novel.

PrincessofPersia
04-20-2011, 10:42 PM
Actually, it didn't work for The Beatles. In numerous interviews on the Anthologies, they said that the stuff they did while on drugs was absolute rubbish. It helped them to think more outside the box, but nothing they did while actually high was usable or even listenable.

I've smoked a little weed, and I did acid once. I could not have written anything while on acid, but I definitely feel like I could use the parts I remember as inspiration for something cool. I couldn't get high on the weed, so I have no idea.

Caitlin Black
04-21-2011, 04:26 AM
I've never tried writing while on drugs. Except coffee and cigarettes. I always have caffeine in my system while writing, and pop out for a smoke every 45-60 minutes while writing.

A guy I once knew said opium was good for writing poetry, because it makes you heaps relaxed and weird ways of depicting common things/emotions pop into your head. *shrug*

WriteKnight
04-21-2011, 07:42 AM
Lots of ways to alter consciousness. Drugs of course, meditation is good. Massive doses of adrenaline are very very powerful. Not many people can write anything creative while surviving adrenaline rushes, but some war correspondents have penned some impressive missives.

I think it's the thinking after the alteration, that feeds into the creativity. Pretty much any 'life changing' experience will alter your conciousnes, change your point of view.

Doing much of anything 'while under the influence' - is going to allow you to alter your perspective. Is that what you're referring to?

FocusOnEnergy
04-21-2011, 09:19 AM
On adrenaline: I got caught in the middle of a police chase and had a front row seat for the take-down. Prior to that I was shooting when a couple of gang members decided to assault a rival with a chunk of split rail fencing-they took turns with it. The tunnel vision adrenaline causes does help with photography, unfortunately, the shaking of my hands does not. I can't imagine being able to write anything while having an adrenaline rush like that, I'm completely on auto-pilot. Once the danger is over, it takes a while for that chemical to get out of my system and for me to even remember what happened clearly.

Years back, when my mother was still alive, we'd have a little happy smoke from time to time and we always kept a pen and paper handy. We'd occasionally get good ideas from our discussions (usually one-liners) and if we didn't write them down, they would be gone forever.

I've had very good results with meditation, on the other hand. I find that definitely enhances creativity.

YMMV.

Focus

talking to myself
04-21-2011, 07:39 PM
Lots of ways to alter consciousness. Drugs of course, meditation is good. Massive doses of adrenaline are very very powerful. Not many people can write anything creative while surviving adrenaline rushes, but some war correspondents have penned some impressive missives.

I think it's the thinking after the alteration, that feeds into the creativity. Pretty much any 'life changing' experience will alter your conciousnes, change your point of view.

Doing much of anything 'while under the influence' - is going to allow you to alter your perspective. Is that what you're referring to?

Yeah, like that. And yes, the qeux isn't just about drugs. I think meditation, yoga, self-hypnosis, etc., are also valid.

I was actually trying to get a good discussion going on the topic. These are all interesting responses.

LIVIN
04-22-2011, 11:14 PM
I think meditation, yoga, self-hypnosis, etc., are also valid.


How do you hypnotize yourself?

sunandshadow
04-22-2011, 11:48 PM
How do you hypnotize yourself?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-hypnosis
I can't do it though.

dpaterso
04-22-2011, 11:50 PM
Moving this from Screenwriting discussion to AW Roundtable for wider audience.

-Derek

Jamesaritchie
04-23-2011, 12:00 AM
Hi everyone -

At work. Lunchtime.

There is an older thread here somewhere that polled AWWC SSS mavens about drug use.

It occurred to me: I'd love to see a poll that asks whether you believe [your personal] drug use/method of attaining an altered state of consciousness enhances your writing creativity. AND a poll that connects writing success with drug use would be slick.

I mean, let's face it. It worked for the Beatles, The Stones, etc., etc...

Disclaimer: I am not in any way condoning or promoting the use of illegal substances.

I doubt it works for anyone, even the Beatles and The Stones. Some are simply able to create despite drug use, not because of it.

The same silly claims are made for alcohol, and you name it.

NeuroFizz
04-23-2011, 12:18 AM
The euphoria from many drugs can make a person view creative crap seem brilliant. It may not be creativity that is unleashed by drugs but the person's perception of creativity that is altered.

No matter how many shortcuts people try, writing damn good stories still requires a fleet and agile mind, as well as some serious work ethic.

timewaster
04-23-2011, 12:26 AM
I have lost three attempts to reply to this.
I wanted to say that I have experienced an altered consciousness only when stone cold sober and totally engaged in what I'm doing. In that state I lose self awareness and am entirely focused on the story so that when I finish it feels almost as if I've been dreaming. I think it is what people call being 'inspired' and I've never managed to make it happen on purpose. I'm not sure what I've written in that state has been any better than my usual stuff but I write more quickly and more fluently when I concentrate like that. It is about being more alert and together not less so.

quicklime
04-23-2011, 12:30 AM
Hi everyone -

At work. Lunchtime.

There is an older thread here somewhere that polled AWWC SSS mavens about drug use.

It occurred to me: I'd love to see a poll that asks whether you believe [your personal] drug use/method of attaining an altered state of consciousness enhances your writing creativity. AND a poll that connects writing success with drug use would be slick.

I mean, let's face it. It worked for the Beatles, The Stones, etc., etc...

Disclaimer: I am not in any way condoning or promoting the use of illegal substances.


Did it? You have a parallel Stones and Beatles that avoided drugs to compare to?

The problem is, "They used drugs and did extremely well" doesn't really prove any causal relationship. They wrote lots of stuff while fucked out of their gourd and did well; who can say if by staying straight they would have done better, worse, or the same?

I'm not rabidly anti-drug, but I do get tweaked by false inferences like this. Personally I don;t believe mind-altering drugs are gonna help me write a realistic world, even a realistic fantasy world.

If you'd really like to read about it though, King discusses a lot fo this from his perspective at least in On Writing.....he doesn't think he's lost anything by going straight, and while i'd have argued that with his first couple post-rehab efforts, I think he was just finding his confidence and legs again.

Quick

Susan Littlefield
04-23-2011, 12:40 AM
Hi everyone -

At work. Lunchtime.

There is an older thread here somewhere that polled AWWC SSS mavens about drug use.

It occurred to me: I'd love to see a poll that asks whether you believe [your personal] drug use/method of attaining an altered state of consciousness enhances your writing creativity. AND a poll that connects writing success with drug use would be slick.

I mean, let's face it. It worked for the Beatles, The Stones, etc., etc...

Disclaimer: I am not in any way condoning or promoting the use of illegal substances.

In my opinion, a poll would be silly. However, you can create polls with threads, I believe.

I doubt it worked for the Beatles, Stones, or anybody else. You may be able to get that "writing high," but it's all false and lasts for awhile, then you're back to living life on life's terms.

Read Stephen King's On Writing. He talks about his use of drugs for part of his career. He's very blunt about the downfalls.

kuwisdelu
04-23-2011, 12:47 AM
Not so much with writing, but alcohol seems to make me a better programmer. Seems to help with understanding mathematics and physics, too. For me, anyway.

talking to myself
04-23-2011, 02:05 AM
How do you hypnotize yourself?

Hi Livin -

Hypnosis pertains to one of my character arcs so I've been researching it online.

Apparently a lot of our impressions (mine at least) about hypnosis (picked up in movies!) are wrong.

Hypnosis is simply an altered state of consciousness similar to yoga, meditation etc. Long story short, I guess the theory is that if you can do yoga and meditate you can hypnotize yourself.

Hypnosis is basically the power of suggestion so I guess the more malleable and impressionable a person is, the more open they are to hypnosis.

Lil
04-23-2011, 05:22 AM
GIGO

Diana_Rajchel
04-23-2011, 10:17 AM
On drugs/alcohol, I can't write. I actually restrict drinking to times when I know I can't possibly work right after because I get so irritated by my altered-to-sluggish brain. I will add a caveat the properly diluted absinthe will let me work - if and only if I want to work during a migraine.

Natural methods that get endorphin release, like meditation, exercise, etc. on the other hand work really well for me. If I'm relaxed but alert, I can make it work.

aruna
04-23-2011, 10:38 AM
Meditation, specifically self-enquiry. Not so much an "altered state of consciousness" but a decluttering of the mind and fundamental grounding that allows creativity -- which I believe is inherent -- to flow. Couldn't live (or write!) without it.
Hate that word flow btw. It sounds so stupidly New Age. But can't be bothered to be creative right now.

shaldna
04-23-2011, 10:55 AM
I've been on several prescription painkillers that effectively ended my creativity. I just couldn't even concentrate enough to turn on the computer, never mind try and write.

I've written drunk, and had to scrap the lot.

gothicangel
04-23-2011, 11:35 AM
I have to agree with those that say it actually stifles creativity.

I was on anti-depressants about two years ago, for some strange reason my marks at university went from 2:1 to firsts. But writing my novel? That just totally ended. No ability to write and when I looked back at what I had from before the depression it looked like utter crap.

Layla Nahar
04-23-2011, 02:45 PM
Well, I think it the altered perceptions may jar a person's psyche and for those who have any kind of creative inhibitions (iow blocks) the resulting discombobulation may allow things to flow better, for a while at least. But then again, many people say that travel, for example, does the same thing. A friend of mine said of perception altering drugs that you learn a more about the drug (eg how it alters you) than about yourself. I guess you might get a neat angle or image to inspire you, but like Neurfizz says, the actual creative work is work, your linear brain has to sit down & crank it out.

AlwaysJuly
04-23-2011, 08:30 PM
I've never wasted a good drunk on writing. Maybe I'll have to try it sometime.

I've never done any drugs, so I don't know about that. I find that I'm often more creative when I'm exhausted though (if I can force myself to stay on task) because my self-editor is too sleepy to interfere.

Kitty27
04-23-2011, 11:12 PM
I am already in an altered state because I am crazy as all outdoors. I can't write while high or drunk and don't need either to enhance my creativity.

whacko
04-23-2011, 11:39 PM
I don't need to enhance my creativty either. I'm just as bad drunk or sober.

kuwisdelu
04-23-2011, 11:40 PM
I'd say for most of the more radical mind-altering substances out there that I think they're better for the experience that may enrich writing later than for writing anything while actually on them.

Less radical stuff like alcohol or pot are more subject to personal variation. Some can work fine and even better on them; some can't at all.

Curfew Gull
04-27-2011, 04:16 AM
The experiences I have had while under the influence of some drugs, and also just naturally while jogging, meditating, etc. have ended up in my writing. But writing under the influence? Not for me. Although, to be honest, I do seem to eat a lot of chocolate when writing (I don't drink coffee or tea, so my choice of caffeine is chocolate).

zander
04-27-2011, 08:32 AM
Does caffeine count?

A single beer and I can't write at all.

BenPanced
04-27-2011, 09:31 AM
Considering how I got the last time I partook, I'm not sure I'd be of any use doing anything.

Susan Littlefield
04-27-2011, 09:51 AM
Natural methods that get endorphin release, like meditation, exercise, etc. on the other hand work really well for me. If I'm relaxed but alert, I can make it work.

I go for a good run, I can work forever!

Diana_Rajchel
04-27-2011, 11:03 AM
Does caffeine count?

A single beer and I can't write at all.

I'm surprised I overlooked caffeine. Just the right dose is really helpful for me - gets the brain going. Coffee is good (two cup a day habit) and sometimes yerba matte'.

Jonathan Dalar
04-27-2011, 10:52 PM
Well, as I have never done drugs, I can't really speak to that. But I will share my opinion, because dammit, I can!

Tom Robbins sure writes like he was high on mushrooms the whole time. Probably not, however, and I have no idea. His writing does contain references.

Various rock bands have performed or produced stuff while under the influence of God-knows-what. A lot of them say it helped the creativity. But is that cause and effect or is that simply a matter of us wrongfully attributing correlation to causation?

I've written while drinking, though. I can usually crank out decent material if I have about a beer an hour or so. If I maintain a decent level without starting to buzz badly, I'm fine.

If I have any more and start to get drunk, I find that while my work is probably more honest, it's honestly full of typos and errors, and the plot can get tangled. It's really not worth the extra effort to let a tad more honesty show through the work. Writing novels allows a good deal of creative license anyway, and if the material is closer to home than otherwise, it doesn't really matter.

I like a beer or two when writing, but I sip it pretty slow and steady. What can I say? I learned from years living in Europe. It seems to help only from the standpoint of getting me in a comfortable setting to write. The alcohol does nothing to really enhance the writing skills (or lack thereof).

Xaenyth
04-27-2011, 11:29 PM
I wish I could drink and write but I can't. One beer and writing is the last thing I want to do. It's sad because it means I drink a lot less these days. *sniff sniff*

Libbie
04-28-2011, 04:03 AM
It's never worked for me. I am such an unproductive dumbass when my brain is altered that I tend to avoid substances all the time now. I might occasionally have a glass of wine or a beer, but only after my writing is done for the day.

Chicago Expat
04-28-2011, 05:31 AM
Most drugs will interfere with a productive writing routine. A writer (or any artist, really) needs to develop some consistency. Getting consistency with drugs usually involves developing tolerance. Developing tolerance could result in a habit, which isn't cute.
It takes real dedication to develop a writing routine. Don't know that I'd advise trying to incorporate drugs into it.

But as far as experimentation outside of the routine, well, that's another matter.

Sirion
04-28-2011, 06:46 AM
No, it's just another way for druggies to justify their bad habbits.

The vast majority of good works in literature are going to be done in your right mind. And most artists and writers are strange enough without adding drugs to the mix, lol =)

LIVIN
04-28-2011, 08:24 AM
Does caffeine count?


Of course.

Menyanthana
05-10-2011, 02:26 PM
My dreams have more creative plots than any story I ever wrote. Unfortunately, I never thought of placing a pencil and a sheet of paper near my bed.

Other than that, I have no experience with altered states of consciousness and don't want to try.

LIVIN
05-10-2011, 03:53 PM
Unfortunately, I never thought of placing a pencil and a sheet of paper near my bed.

I find the above statement utterly astonishing for any writer.

CaroGirl
05-10-2011, 04:41 PM
I find it very difficult to write while unconscious.

Phaeal
05-10-2011, 04:49 PM
Writing itself puts me in an altered state of mind.

bearilou
05-10-2011, 04:53 PM
I'm always reminded of Lawrence Block (not sure) telling the story about the writer who smoked pot and was having the most profound thoughts while high, that he decided to keep pen and paper handy to write them down so they wouldn't forget when they sobered up.

"This room smells funny."

Not sure but that may have been an urban legend but it still hits me every time someone talks about their 'brilliant flashes of insight and creativity while high/drunk'.

Me? I just get sleepy. All the creativity in the world will do me little good if I can't stay awake long enough to get any of it down.

Manuel Royal
05-10-2011, 05:20 PM
A couple of drinks loosens me up; I don't think I get any ideas I wouldn't otherwise, but it helps unlock the emotional implications of ideas I do have.

A strong cup of regular coffee jolts my brain, and I'm more likely to get actual words down; any more than one cup and I'm too jittery. (For some reason caffeine in soda doesn't affect me the same way; maybe it's not as concentrated.)

The few times I smoked weed (many years ago), I never got any good ideas, just paranoia, dry mouth, loss of balance and the feeling I was chewing my own tongue. I know for some people, it just makes them happy; obviously not the drug for me.

ETA: My ex-wife recommends opium.

Little Ming
05-10-2011, 11:21 PM
This thread makes me realize just how boring I am. My "drugs" of choice are coffee, tea and chocolate. Not much too though, I overstimulate easily and end up pacing around the house, talking to myself and confusing the dog.

Phaeal
05-11-2011, 02:33 AM
I'm so squeaky clean these days I don't even do caffeine. So unless you count chamomile...

There was the time I drank a big old cup of catnip tea. I must be feline at heart, because I went ballistic. Rrrrrrowr!

:e2cat:

Kate Thornton
05-11-2011, 03:04 AM
I wrote before my stroke, but I gotta say, after I wrote more & better and learned to paint, too. A right brain injury seems to have unleashed a lot of left brain activity for me. I lost the use of my left side - bad luck, being left-handed and all - but I gained a terrific new way of seeing, well, everything. I also experience mild synesthesia.

I'm not saying go out and have a near-death experience that will cripple you for life - I'm just saying mine had a silver lining that more than made up for the down side.

These great side effects wouldn't necessarily be a boon to anyone else, but I am grateful for them.


..

Mom'sWrite
05-11-2011, 03:17 AM
Altered states are for entertainment purposes only. Any resemblance to writers living or dead is purely coincidental.

Darkshore
05-16-2011, 08:58 PM
I've had my fair share of drug/alcohol induced moments of an altered consciousness. I believe there can be many "cool" or interesting experiences during such times but I could never write anything while like that, and I don't condone doing so often or even at all. But then again living life itself gives you experiences that will help your writing. For me I find bouts of depression to be my muse. Doesn't happen often mind you, but when I am really down in the dumps I find the stuff that flows from my mind to the keyboard is really the best that I have ever written.

Diana Hignutt
05-16-2011, 09:02 PM
To answer the question in the OP:

sometimes, yes. sometimes it = a life ruined. There's some risk assessment work needs doing. And that's a well experienced opinion on this matter, I assure you.

Anninyn
05-17-2011, 04:34 PM
Nope. While my imagination can go freefall in altered states of consciousness (including drunk), what actually ends up written is absolute rubbish. Not even a kernel of a good idea.

One drunken occasion I thought I was writing really well, but in the morning all that was across the page was 'I AM GOING TO BE THE VOICE OF A NEW GENERATION' , poorly spelled.

jeffo20
05-17-2011, 09:48 PM
It's been more than twenty years since I smoked pot. I suspect if I tried to write while stoned I'd spend half the time at the computer listening to the buzzing noise running through all my muscles and the other half looking out for whoever was sneaking around trying to steal whatever I was *supposed* to be writing. I definitely had a big-time issue with paranoia.

As for drinking and writing, I'm sure I would *think* I was having the greatest idea in the world but I doubt I'd be able to make any sense out of it in the morning. And I'd have a headache, to boot.

Lillie
05-17-2011, 10:16 PM
In answer to the original question.

In my experience, no. It does not help anything.

My altered states of conciousness always end up in one of the following situations, or variations thereof.

1. Monged out on the settee philosophising about all the wonderful things I'm going to do when I'm not monged out.

2. Babbling like a loon about all the wonderful things in my head and writing some of them down because they really are the secrets at the heart of the universe. Then finding out later that what I've written is either trite and obvious, or nonsensical.

Examples of the above. 'Everyone is everything.' 'We should all be nice.' 'It looks like an ostrich.'

3. Semi concious dreaming dreams of wonderful things that I won't remember when I come round and feel like crap.

4. Vomiting into a bucket.