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Lady Gaga Gets High To Write – Will It Work For You?

Lady GagaAccording to the Huffington Post, Lady Gaga admited to Anderson Cooper of 60 Minutes that she gets high on pot when she writes music.

I can’t resist a post for three reasons:

  1. Just the name, Lady Gaga, tends to bring visitors here who wouldn’t find us any other way.
  2. I love the Huffington Post, at least I did before it got sold to AOL. We’ll see what happens there.
  3. The idea that getting high helps creativity has been around since creativity and getting high were first discovered. And of course, I’ve got a theory, and some experience.

Back in the day when I used to get drunk and get high I really did it to change my perception of myself and my reality. Alcohol and to a lesser degree, marijuana, seemed to make it easier for me to express myself, probably because both suppress many of the judgement centers of the brain.

I don’t know about you, but I found imbibing was a horrible strategy for me. I either got lazy and didn’t write at all, or, when I sobered up what I had written was just plain awful. Apparently I’m one of those who needs some judgement to create.

In fact, when I look back, I realize that was true for everyone I was hanging out with back then. In truth, I don’t know any creative who creates well under the influence.

None-the-less, the stories persist. Today it’s Lady Gaga, and there are plenty of writers before her. Poe comes to mind, for example. There are others.

So what’s your experience or opinion. Does getting high make for creativity?


{ 32 comments… add one }
  • jorgekafkazar February 18, 2011, 4:03 pm

    One of the first books I read on writing (and many since) had a specific warning about drinking and scribing. Focusing on the fact that alcohol changes the brain, it said (IIRC): “…Eventually they have to drink more and more to write less and less.” Some examples were given of authors who had lost their ability to write altogether, after years of excessive use–Half-Shot Fitzgerald, and so on and on. [Poe, interestingly, refused alcohol when admitted to the hospital where he died, saying, “I’ve stopped drinking.” He most likely died from being bit by a rabid animal.]

    For a person of average physiology, booze and drugs may for a while enhance output. Eventually, they can over-activate the emergency response region of the amygdala, causing it to become too powerful. Designed only for emergencies, it is semi-autonomous and has no reckoning of long-term consequences. Re-establishing control over it, telling it who’s in charge, takes a long time and a sustained effort. Lady Gaga may get lucky, but for me, the risk isn’t worth the putative gain in creativeness. Bring on the music and dark chocolate!

  • Eda February 18, 2011, 2:56 pm

    I hate to admit but I have written some of my best poetry while under the influence. Of course writing a good article or working on my book is a different story…

  • Tui Cameron February 18, 2011, 2:06 pm

    My drugs of choice for enhancing creativity are espresso and dark chocolate. Listening to spacey, ambient music really enhances my writerly trance, too.

    • Amelia Ramstead February 18, 2011, 2:11 pm

      Take me to your dealer….

      • Tui Cameron February 18, 2011, 6:58 pm

        Come on over, Amelia, and I’ll fire up my espresso machine! 🙂

        • Amelia Ramstead February 18, 2011, 7:02 pm

          If nothing else I’ll be up all night — that’s gotta be conducive to getting some writing done!! lol

    • jorgekafkazar February 18, 2011, 3:18 pm

      Okay, I’ll try one the chocolate and the music, Tui. Sounds worth a shot.

      • Tui Cameron February 18, 2011, 7:01 pm

        As I told Amelia above: Come on over and I’ll brew you a tasty cup of espresso. I’m fresh out of dark chocolate, alas.

  • Amelia Ramstead February 18, 2011, 12:05 pm

    I actually really regret my 5 or 6 “party” years. I really wasted a lot of time in my early 20s when I could have been making a lot happen. I look back on all that free time now before I got married and had kids and just shake my head in disgust. The problem for me was very much a lack of motivation. I didn’t want to to do *anything* — just sit around and giggle. Not very useful in the scheme of things.

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:29 pm

      Ah, Amelia, regrets never get us any place, or rarely. Sounds like you’ve moved on nicely.

  • allena February 18, 2011, 10:04 am

    In addition to Sagan, wasn’t a lot of Walden Pond written while Hemingway was drinking? I thought I read that somewhere.

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:30 pm

      Yeah, Hemingway drank a bunch… may have contributed to his suicide.

    • Tui Cameron February 18, 2011, 7:04 pm

      Unlike the hard-drinking Hemingway, Thoreau (who wrote On Walden Pond) was a teetotaler who believed, “water is the only drink for a wise man.” I think I’d have a tough time hanging out with either one of them! ;p

  • allena February 18, 2011, 10:00 am

    Anne- you hit it on the head in one respect- that it supresses judgement centers. We were JUST talking about how important that is last night in a grad non fiction/essay class. Being high or drunk helps some people with flow, too- just letting it go. In addition, (not me) but for others I can see it helping with focus. Now, you said what you wrote was shit, but how about some editing> How about some clean up? Were the framed ideas there? Was the piece worth a Save As as opposed to a delete?

    Devon- a bender? Everything in moderation! I am a 34 year old health nut who looks (and acts sometimes like 25) I run 5ks, 10ks and half marathons. I’m that bitch at the beach who walks around without a sarong on. I enjoy (in moderation) drinking and clubbing with my younger friends, and I smoke once in a great while (as a runner, not too often, much more in winter then in race season). I don’t do benders. But two glasses of wine and an open word document have garnered me some gorgeous lyrical essays!

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:34 pm

      I had to get sober before I gathered the courage to submit anything – that’s part of my ‘dark’ passed and why I could never run for public office. 😉

  • Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing February 18, 2011, 1:34 am

    Not for me! More like laughing my ass off, and then curling up under the table and going to sleep… Great for relaxing and enjoying some downtime, but I don’t think it’s been a real creative tool for me. Possibly I’m just a real lightweight…

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:34 pm

      You might be a lightweight with booze, but not in other areas. 😉

  • Holly Bowne February 17, 2011, 10:03 pm

    I’m sure I’ll sound quite boring but I’ve never tried it, and never will. I wonder if LG just said it to promote her “uniqueness.”

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:35 pm

      Holly, good for you! Truly.

    • jorgekafkazar February 18, 2011, 3:22 pm

      Or to side-line her competitors.

    • Brenna February 21, 2011, 11:45 pm

      I’m with you, Holly. I’ve drank a little alcohol here and there but that’s about it. I was really boring in college, but I got scholarships while I was busy being boring so I think it worked out in my favor. 🙂

      • annew February 22, 2011, 1:13 pm

        Boring turns out often not to be over the long haul.

  • Ashley February 17, 2011, 8:55 pm

    I don’t know that I ever tried to write after the handful of times I smoked pot, but I’m useless drunk — giggly and entertaining, but I’d get more coherence out of beating a raw steak against my keyboard. Even just a little alcohol just makes me sleepy and lazy (after having a kid my tolerance for alcohol when *whoosh!* out the window).

    That said, the poet I lived with in my pot-smoking days was a twice-a-day smoker and couldn’t get started and focused until after she’d sat down with her pipe. And she does very good work.

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:36 pm

      Ashley, love how different we all are – and how alike. Thanks for also sharing about the poet.

  • Albert Diaz February 17, 2011, 6:15 pm

    I have depression and deficit disorder problems. I’ve been always “full of ideas” but hadn’t accomplished anything great. I started smoking cannabis 3 years ago. THC doesn’t work for everybody, but for me, it increases my attention span, keeps me motivated and focused. It may seem counterintuitive, but since I started smoking weed, I’ve been able to make 3, almost 4 times more money working as a web designer. If weed worked for one of the most brilliant men of our history, like Carl Sagan, why wouldn’t it work for you?

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:38 pm

      Albert, amazing – as I said above, I had to sober up before I could write. Glad you’ve found something that works for you.

  • Sire February 17, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Personally I think that saying that, true or not, was the wrong thing to do. Like it or not she is a role model to thousands of young people who are influenced by what she says as that merely tells them that drugs are cool.

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:38 pm

      oh, my hunch is if she’d denied it no one would have believed her. Kids are really hard to fool.

  • Devon Ellington February 17, 2011, 2:24 pm

    Doesn’t work for me. Not only is the quality crap and it all has to be rewritten, but running a freelance writing business is like training for a marathon — you have to remain in optimal health. The older you get, the harder it is to bounce back after a bender. I could get high, write badly, fix it and move on with minimal sleep, food, etc. when I was twenty; can’t do it now. More importantly, I don’t want to.

    I’d rather feel really good while I write — not “high” good, but really GOOD and focused and strong.

    • annew February 18, 2011, 1:50 pm

      Devon, I too have noticed I’m not 20 anymore.

    • Elizabeth West March 7, 2011, 3:03 pm

      HEAR HEAR! That’s exactly how I feel about it.

      Anyway, who wants to deal with the hangover? Not me.

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