Christopher Hitchens defended his prolific smoking and drinking habits even though they probably killed him. "Whatever enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation," he once wrote, "is worth it to me." But does boozing really aid the creative process? Slate takes a look, perusing anecdotal evidence and a few amusing studies in which people got pickled and tried to write something.
One anecdote has Hemingway writing to F. Scott Fitzgerald: "You’re no more of a rummy than Joyce is and most good writers are." Apparently almost three-quarters of major 20th-century American writers flirted with alcoholism. But studies that separate the sober from the half-sauced and tell them both to write remain inconclusive (although drinkers give themselves higher scores when asked to perform their own evaluations). In other words, the jury's out. Maybe it's that alcoholics and writers both tend to be loners, reports Slate—although Hitchens was hardly the stay-at-home type.