Maia Szalavitz has an interesting piece in Time: How Getting Tipsy May Inspire Creativity
In it, she talks about a recent study that discovered that a little alcohol actually helped stimulate inspiration and creativity and resulted in a better job answering word-association tests.
Increasingly, science is confirming that altered states of consciousness — whether induced by drugs, alcohol, sleepiness, travel or anything else that removes us from our usual way of seeing the world — do indeed improve creative thought. The inhibition of what researchers call executive functioning, which includes focus and planning — abilities that decline when we’re under the influence — may be what lets us generate new ideas and innovative solutions, instead of remaining fixed on the task at hand.
Of course, that’s not a surprise in any way to us. And you can bet that if the study involved marijuana instead of alcohol, they’d find even stronger positive effects.
Artists have long found their creative juices stimulated by drugs. The entire field of jazz exists in part because of cannabis.
This doesn’t mean you have to use drugs to be creative. Of course not. And many creative people spend their entire careers successfully without using anything. But as Maia notes, the inhibition of “executive functioning” can be critical in opening your mind to new things. And for many people, the use of mind-altering substances helps open that door.
I have spent most of my life around creative people. I’m an artist, a musician, a theatre professional and have an incredible number of artistic friends. I’ve also met a lot of creative people in other fields.
In my experience, people who are creative, or lean toward creative thinking, are less likely to be boring assholes. People who are unable to turn off their “executive functioning” are more likely to be boring assholes.
Our world needs artists, musicians, poets, and creative thinkers in all disciplines. We don’t need boring assholes.
And if marijuana or a glass of wine helps a few more people find their creative muse, the world will be a better place.