A-Z Writer's Toolbox: Alcohol

It's April!  Not only is this the month of my birth *hooray me!*, it's also the month when droves of insane bloggers attempt to post an alphabet themed post every single day of the week minus Sunday.  It's called the A-Z Blog Challenge, and frankly it's nuts.

However, being a little off-tilt myself, I've decided to take this challenge and spank it on its hind-parts.  All other regular blog features may take a backseat over the next few weeks, but I promise to keep it fun and informative.  Here's my plan to keep us entertained throughout this process:

Like all craftspeople, writers need to keep a bag of tricks handy.  A set of tools for the job at hand (writing), if you will.  Some of these traits or tools are obvious--like the need to have a hide as thick as a brick, for instance.  Some are not.  I'm going to use this challenge to examine some of those necessary tools, and hopefully find something for each letter of the alphabet in the process.  Hold on to your #2 pencil, here we go!

Click Here To Read More A-Z
A is for Alcohol

We all know of the dubious link between alcohol and writers.  Some of the most revered scribes of all time liked to partake of the Devil's Cool-Aid before (and during) the jotting down of their most important thoughts.  From Hemingway to Stephen King and Capote to Dorothy Parker--liquor has had a vexing role in many an author's creative process.

Here's a list of the 15 most notable drunken scribblers.  

This isn't to glorify substance abuse in any way.  Stephen King is on record as saying his alcoholism did more harm for his writing than good, and many an author has met an early end to their brilliance due to over-indulgence. (Jack Kerouac died of alcoholism related illness at the age of 47.)

In fact, the real tool that writers need isn't the alcohol at all.  It's the psychological symptoms of alcoholism.

Perhaps the single most valuable tool in a writer's toolbox is the ability to create dynamic characters.  Characters with problems, mood swings and emotional baggage are the lifeblood of a good story.  Furthermore, it's the unexpected that make characters really come to life.  Like brothers who don't act like brothers, or a good guy who doesn't always think or do the right thing.  Unfortunately, great characters are easier to read about than they are to create.  Creating a hero who isn't always good, or a villain who isn't always insidious takes a lot of work.

Here's where alcohol can help.  The following are a few of the psychological symptoms of alcoholism:

  • Loss of control
  • Sleep problems
  • The collapse of the alibi system
  • An increase in failed promises and resolutions to one's self and to others
  • Anxiety
  • Obsession
  • Loss of interests
  • Unreasonable resentments
  • Loss of willpower
  • Aggression
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Denial
As you can read, alcohol kind of makes people unpredictable and, well, crazy.  So the next time you're stuck with trying to create a dynamic character, I propose the following cocktail:

Vanilla Character Twist

1 - Normal Character
1/2 Tbs - Motivation
2 tsp - Description
1 Shot - Any of the above alcoholism related symptoms

Mix all ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously, strain and pour.  Garnish with fruit and zest of plot.  Enjoy!  

Come back tomorrow to see what you can do with the letter B!



  1. That is incredibly cute. I think I'm going to need re-hab after that Vanilla Character Twist

    (I touch on this subject if you read an old post-you may have already read- called Egos and Paper Tigers)but I keep thinking the writer needs the drink not the character.

    I can't wait to see B.

    I guess you are going to be a blogOholic for at least a month. Good luck!

  2. I now understand James Bond so much better...thanks for clearing that up.

  3. I like this! I might just have to give it a shot.

    Raising Marshmallows

  4. Hmm... that's a good twist to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Good post. I write during the day and work in the evenings so I don't get to mix drinking and writing that often.

  6. Great post. Very smart and I love the vanilla character twist.

  7. This is an amazing post. Super informative in a uniquely incredible way. I'll definitely be tuning in for more of your writer's toolbox tips!

    I'm also a writer embarking on the A to Z Challenge. So excited! And good luck to you!

  8. "Here's a list of the 15 most notable drunken scribblers." How do you suppose they measure that?

    I have a feeling "C" will either be "coffee" or "caffeine"... our generation's addiction of choice :).

  9. Love the recipe! Looking forward to where you go next!

  10. I love the vanilla character twist recipe. I've been using it off and on in my writing for a while now. Glad to finally have a name for it.

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your blogs this month. I have a feeling they're going to be fantastic.

    M.J. Fifield
    My Pet Blog

  11. Sometimes I wish I could have one drink but the last time I did, I ended up in the hospital for four days. Almost died. Great post, my friend.

  12. That guy is most definitely drinking absinthe.

  13. I do like a drink myself, but only to get tipsy, not trashed! :D

    I love your cocktail recipe. hehe

  14. Love the recipe! And love the new look of your blog!

  15. I guess it's nice to know that I have a lot of the necessary psychological symptoms without the alcohol. It gives a whole new meaning to the glass is half full. I can't wait to see what you do with 'B'. See you around!

  16. Great post! Why whine...when you can wine??Enjoyed reading back through some of your other posts as well. Looking forward to B thru Z.

  17. A vanilla character twist, huh?

    Good one!

  18. Why am I suddenly craving a Guinness?


“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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