Anne Wayman touched on one of my pet peaves about creativity today in her post, “Lady Gaga Gets High To Write – Will It Work For You?” over at her blog About Freelance Writing.
In the post, Anne confesses that drugs and alcohol do not feed her particular muse. As she puts it, “I either got lazy and didn’t write at all, or, when I sobered up what I had written was just plain awful.”
On the other hand, Lady Gaga recently confessed to Anderson Cooper that she smokes pot whilst penning her tunes. I am sure that this comes as no surprise to many people, and that is precisely what bugs me. I can just hear certain people I know going, “Of course she’s on drugs. Just look at those crazy outfits. It’s obvious.”
I realize that throughout history many creative people have leaned heavily on drugs to ignite their muse. It works for some, and it drives others into an early grave. Different strokes for different folks and all that. What bothers me is when people assume that creativity and drugs always go hand in hand.
Why does this annoy me so much? You see, I’ve had an artsy fartsy streak my whole life. Being playful, imaginative, goofy and weird comes easily to me. Being organized, focused and normal (well, normal-ish) is a daily struggle, but I do my best. Add to this that I am nearly always in a good mood, and the result is that people often assume I am high when I am not!
I guess I’m lucky because – as cheesy as this sounds – I can get high on life. Don’t sneer! I don’t say that lightly. I say that because I have been accused of being high (while completely sober) so many times in my life.
One time, I was working as a barista, and while my back was turned, I overheard a sweet elderly couple talking about me. “She’s always so cheerful,” said the husband.
“Kinda makes you wonder what she’s on,” replied the wife.
On? What am I on? I was completely blindsided by their remarks and, truth be told, it hurt my feelings. This couple came to the coffeehouse often, and we had – or at least I thought we had – a great rapport.
Still, it wasn’t an isolated incident. I get stuff like, “What did you smoke for breakfast?” all the time, and had a boss whose nickname for me was, “the walking bong hit.” I am not making that up! (Ironically, he smokes pot and I don’t.)
That said, I am not a complete teetotaler. I love a foo-foo cocktail (bring on the umbrellas and cherries, I say!), a big glass of wine, or a tasty Belgian beer, and I love the buzz which those tasty drinks supply. I may even get some creative ideas while tipsy, but I certainly can’t start a day of serious writing with booze. I’d pass out by lunch.
Still, I can’t say that I write completely sober, either. My workday ritual includes a good cup of espresso paired with the spaciest ambient music I can find on streaming radio. When the writing is going well, I am in an altered state. Nothing woo-woo, just a pleasant head space that’s more absent-minded professor than drugged up rock star, y’know?
What about you? Do drugs enhance your creativity? Do you automatically assume that creative people use drugs to get their ideas flowing? Do people ever think you’re sober when you’re high, or high when you’re sober?
Oh, and if you happen to be a writer, check out Anne Wayman’s blog About Freelance Writing.. It will give you a good, writerly high, man.