The majority of authors do. Because there is a significant degree of anxiety involved in writing, practically all American authors have drinking issues. And it's all OK until you reach a certain age, at which point you need the nervous support that alcohol provides. As Raymond Chandler said: "Drinking is a good way to forget your problems."
Charles Bukowski was an alcoholic writer who died at the age of 49 after having numerous heart attacks and strokes. Henry Miller was another famous author who suffered from alcoholism. Miller killed himself at the age of 52.
So yes, all great writers are alcoholics. Most drink too much or too often, and some even die young due to heart attacks or strokes caused by their own excessive drinking.
But what about other types of artists? Many musicians, actors, and dancers also suffer from anxiety when working on a new project so they turn to alcohol to calm their nerves. And like writers, most of these artists experience drinking problems at some point in their lives.
Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin were all extreme examples of musicians who suffered from severe alcohol dependencies. Cobain even told friends he wanted to kill himself when he was 18 years old. He took his life at the age of 27 after suffering from depression and addiction for several years.
It's a common misconception that great writers wrote when inebriated. You may be a drunk or a functional alcoholic, and many people are, but not while writing. Alcohol affects us all differently, and some people can drink heavily and still function properly.
The only real effect of alcohol on the brain is to slow it down. Too much and you'll make mistakes due to memory loss and confusion. Well-known authors such as Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald were heavy drinkers but never seemed affected by their alcohol consumption. They could write great stories even when drinking heavily.
The only other effect of alcohol on the writer is to increase the likelihood of making mistakes. If you're not used to drinking, you might say something offensive or show poor judgment when intoxicated. But if you're a regular drinker, then getting drunk once in a while isn't going to affect your work.
So, yes, writers write drunk. Or sober. It doesn't matter. As long as they keep typing things away we know will sell, then they're being successful writers.
Among other vices, alcohol has occasionally assisted great authors in getting their creative juices flowing. While a glass or two may have sufficed for some, others were not so forgiving and indulged in excessive drinking even at the expense of their own health. Here are some examples of famous writers who drank themselves into oblivion.
Henry David Thoreau - The author of "Walden" and other books spent three months in prison for defacing government property for which he received a sentence of one year's imprisonment for being drunk in public. However, because of his excellent record while incarcerated, he was allowed to serve his time under correctional supervision.
Charles Dickens - This British writer was an alcoholic and used to say that he could stop drinking any time he wanted to. However, he never did. He died at the age of 58 after having several more drinks than usual on a London street corner. His death was declared a suicide.
John Keats - This English poet was another heavy drinker whose habit cost him his life at the age of 25. He is regarded as one of the most important poets in English literature.
F. Scott Fitzgerald - This American novelist and short story writer was another drunken genius. The stories he wrote while intoxicated with liquor are said to be some of the best in modern literature.
However, there are a variety of additional reasons for the intimate association between writing and drinking, such as the desire to bring forth exhibitionism, promote sociability, inspire fantasizing, boost self-confidence, alleviate loneliness, or simply unwind after a long day of hard focus.
Alcohol has been used for thousands of years with many cultures including its use as an antiseptic, appetite stimulant, sedative, and hypnotic. It plays an important role in social interaction and helps unite groups together. Alcohol is also involved in creativity; studies have shown that people who drink regularly report being more creative than those who do not consume alcohol at all or very rarely.
There are several reasons why writers might choose to drink alcohol while they write. For some, it provides them with a much-needed break from focusing on their work for so long. Others may find that drinking alcohol helps them deal with stress from creating new content daily or from thinking about their work overall. Still others may enjoy the effects of alcohol so much that they cannot concentrate without it.