Thursday, March 02, 2006

To Be the Best Writer You Can Be,
He Recommends Hitting the Sauce

'Many people -- and I think I am one of them -- are more productive when they've had a little to drink. I find if I drink two or three brandies, I'm far better able to write.'--David Ogilvy

For the last several weeks, I've been helping a large advertising agency redevelop a website for one of its clients, a Fortune 500 company (I'll add a link when it goes live, perhaps in a couple of weeks). It's been both a fun and demanding project (not mutually exclusive concepts) in which I've learned much and met some marvelous people. But one thing struck me early on: this agency, in a business where staff is routinely expected to sometimes work long hours depending on project demands, has plenty of free consumables (food and beverages, including free esspresso machines) on hand to take the edge off. So far so good. But I was still a bit taken aback to see that beer was among the freebies. That is, until I came across the above quote yesterday in an email newsletter, from a man who's considered the father of the advertising business. If he says it works, who are we mere mortals to argue? I'm just glad the brandy has been updated to beer for the current generation.


At 3:01 PM, Blogger Chris McVetta said...

Beer does help a little in the creative process - I'm somewhat ashamed to admit.

But I'd love to work for this place - are they accepting applications-?

Ah well, probably not - but an interesting post nonetheless, John!

At 4:31 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

They may well be hiring. I'll surely inquire on your behalf. But an update/clarification on the beer in the refrigerator: it turns out it's for agency clients only. That was clearly labeled in another refrigerator I opened, and it turns out the policy is just understood elsewhere and thus no labeling was needed. So now I know I'll have to bring my own, I suppose.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Jeff Hess said...

Shalom John,

I remember in my early years reading an article in Writers' Digest about a hard-boild crime fiction writer who had a brewmeister next to his typewriter (I said it was the early years). He said that he rose every morning and began writing at 8 o'clock by first pulling a tall one from the tap. He would drink and writer steadily for the next four hours.

At the time I remember thinking, "so that's how you do it."

Many years later I have myself written under the influence of a wide range of psychoactive substances. Sometimes the writing was good. Sometimes it was bad. I think we writes are always looking for that edge.

Brain science is telling us that what we ingest changes the way we see the world and react to it. Finding the write combination (typo intended) can be a life-long quest.



At 9:28 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Here's hoping you much success on that lifelong quest. It seems to have worked pretty well for you thus far.

At 6:44 PM, Blogger steveg said...

Espresso, beer, add chocolate and potato chips and you have all four food groups!

We need to have care in our views, recognizing our American cultural mores. Back in the late 80's when I traveled to then west germany for Texas Instruments, beer was served in the commisary and I knew a French kid that used to drink wine with his lunch (not in school of course).

At 9:59 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Steve, you're right of course that in comparison to most Europeans, we have a ridiculous paranoia when it comes to the subject of alcohol. I suppose it's just our native Puritanism showing. Through simple folk wisdom, the French, Italians and Germans have known for centuries what it took our scientist until only recently to document: that moderate amounts of wine consumed daily aren't merely not bad for you, they're beneficial to one's health. So next time I see you, let's have some wine, and celebrate our Europeaness.


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