Turns out, being sleepy or drunk can be a great thing for the creative type. A scientific study says so. Hooray for science for reinforcing “bad” habits!
Wired found a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago where they gave students alcohol (they get credits for that?) and tested them at various times to see how they performed on creative tasks. It turns out that being able to focus, using all those rules/tricks you’ve developed over the decades, can sometimes be detrimental to the creative process. Turn that off, allow your mind to not limit itself, and you might stumble upon the answer more quickly. Of course, if you need to suss out a math problem or even outline your entire story, you probably want a bit of that structure back.
Their summary was particularly apt for me:
Don’t chain yourself to your desk. Instead, set the alarm a few minutes early and wallow in your groggy thoughts. And if that doesn’t work, chug a beer.
I find that groggy half hour when you first wake up to be a great time to write. Don’t talk, don’t listen to music, don’t do anything but get your computer (or your pen/pad) ready and start. It’s amazing what an unrestricted brain will come up with (sometimes amazingly bad, but still, amazing).