I admit my first reaction to hearing about singer-of-the-moment Adele writing her soaraway successful album 21 while under the influence of booze was one of disbelief: firstly, that someone so talented needs to drink (the shadow of Amy Winehouse loomed large in my mind), and secondly, that she could so coolly and publicly admit to it.
Except when I read beyond The Sun headline of ‘Booze helps Adele write songs‘, I realised there was more to it than just downing a bottle of wine and churning out indulgently booze-fuelled lyrics.
What it turns out the singer had done was bypass her inner critic – with all its angst and murderous intentions towards a newly born idea, thought or tune – with the anaesthetising effects of alcohol. Without that switch into another part of herself, the bitter-sweet unexpectedness of her number-one songs may never have reached the airwaves.
She writes a ‘drunk diary’, where she locks herself away with drink and lets her innermost thoughts tumble out onto the page without fear of being censored or criticised or ridiculed. The next morning, she reads it through and, having been quoted as saying she believes a ‘drunk tongue to be an honest one’, she then reads through with a clear head all her uncomfortable fears and feelings.
Hey, it’s made her a successful artist – and there have been many before her who have used intoxicating substances to help imbue their creative work with the gifts of their unconscious.
I find writing when desperately tired last thing at night, or even before I’m properly awake first thing in the morning, helps me access a place that my unconscious mind isn’t capable of going. Or even committing 30 minutes of free-flow intuitive writing can achieve the same thing. There’s something so amazing about reading back stuff that I wrote when I wasn’t censoring it.
Perhaps I should take a drop of Adele’s advice and work with my own unconscious outpourings to transform them into something publishable, sellable and successful.