I grew up with the idea of the 'impaired writer', such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway, men who drank to excess and were brilliant at what they did. There were others, as well. It seemed the common theme of the best writers as I developed my idea of what was a writer was their dependence on drugs and alcohol. My favorite modern writer, Stephen King, was just the latest example.
Missed on my young mind was the fact that those writers wrote well despite their abuses, rather than because of their habits. Writing drunk or writing high, that isn't maxing your potential.
I learned this as an adult. I have a hangover now and it doesn't help me form sentences. Last night I was more interested in drinking and laughing and hanging out with family and friends than I was in being a writer.
Granted, it takes about three beers to make me goofy and anything harder I might as well kiss my brain and balance goodbye. As far as other happy hour choices, I say no. I understand my limits.
Maybe you read this and say, 'I can drink and smoke and snort and, good goddamn! can I write!'
All I can say is, write fast. That stuff catches everyone and eventually you will deteriorate and in today's new writing dynamic, writing is increasingly about volume. You will not be able to write one great novel every few years and live the high life in style. The market is drying up for that sort of writer.
Being impaired slows a writer down. You might be the rare writer who can buck the odds, but not for ever, and not long enough.
I'm not saying, stop having fun. I'm saying simply that at some point you have to make a choice. You can be a writer, or you can be a user. If you do either hard, there is rarely room for both for long.