*sips on three pound Iceland wine*
It is essay season and emotions are running high. Logically, alcohol would be the last thing to resort to when you’re attempting to better your education through hours of research on the driest topic imaginable (the development of the British party system in the 19th century doesn’t really do it for me, sorry). And yet, plenty of people I’ve talked to would swear by a modest level of intoxication before embarking on a looming essay. I’ve even been told by a reliable source that bringing in a crate of beer, locking herself in her room and blasting running music was the reason she got through second year.
I have a confession to make; as a lowly first year, I hadn’t thought about the prospect of getting tipsy and powering through essays so I decided to conduct an experiment and kill two birds with the one stone; drink a bottle of wine and do my politics essay then write an article about drinking a bottle of wine and doing my politics essay.
I will admit that the results were fairly positive. I had fully prepared myself for this night and was raring to go by the time I cracked open the cheapest bottle of wine I could find. For this reason alone, I felt myself motivated and ready to do the task at hand. For some reason, a glass of wine/beer/insert alcohol of choice in your hand gives you a sense of control, like you aren’t swimming in the vast ocean of uncertainty that is ridiculously ambiguous essay questions. I found that I didn’t faff when it came to deciding which articles were relevant and ones that were only in the syllabus because the lecturer wrote them. Neither did I find myself wanting to race down the corridor to hear what gossip I was missing out on because I was committed to this endeavour of drinking and working in equal amounts.
On reflection, this motivation could have been spurned purely from the fact that I mentally prepped myself for a night of essay-filled productivity. Even without alcohol, I know that this can be the deciding factor between actually getting work done and lying in your flatmate’s bed, having a pity party for yourself. But I won’t disregard the fact that three glasses of wine down, I felt the motivation to finish this essay like I never had before.
We all know that alcohol helps us lose our inhibitions, therefore it doesn’t seem ridiculous that when applying this to writing, we become less fearful of the blank screen in front of us and how long it’s going to take us to fill it up. This is because alcohol acts on a neurotransmitter in the brain known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which is an inhibitory agent throughout the brain. The GABA receptors, when stimulated, essentially chuck out any information that the brain does not need. However, when combined with alcohol, this discarded information is also likely to contain your PIN number, the whereabouts of your keys and your previous lack of attraction to the guy from the flat below.
So a word of warning; keep intoxication levels to a low medium so as to avoid falling asleep clutching your lecture notes. Also, be mindful of other potential distractions i.e. turn off your phone and try to remove all other diversions bar the notebook/laptop in your hand and the glass of alcohol in the other. I did waste a fair amount of time on social media simply telling people how ready I was to do my essay mildly inebriated and posting pictures of said alcohol and essay prep. So I would recommend locking doors and turning off all devices that might tempt you to post about your essay epiphany.
Personally, I think that if alcohol is not used as a crutch or a necessity to do things on a daily basis then by all means, use it in reasonable amounts to drum up motivation in stressful times such as these. But be careful; do not have so much faith in your drunken abilities as an academic that you decide to prep, write and send in your essay all in the one session. Never forget; READ OVER YOUR ANSWER.