One of the most famous pieces of writing advice is “write drunk, edit sober.” Writers everywhere have quoted the adage, encouraging others to do what is necessary in order to overcome writer’s block, self-doubt, and creative lapses. But this strategy is not limited to writers; it has a place in any creative field, and content development is prime ground for the application of this classic mantra.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can put down the scotch for this. The origin of the “write drunk, edit sober” adage has been misattributed to the alcohol-loving Hemingway, resulting in a misguided literal interpretation (it was really ). Anyone who has actually tried to do creative work while truly drunk can tell you that you are more likely to pass out at your desk with a movie playing and half a slice of pizza stuck to your forehead than you are to produce any sort of real work.

Writing drunk, creating drunk – they’re about losing yourself in the work: submitting yourself to momentum, getting swept up in creative bursts, immersing yourself so far into what you’re doing that you’re almost giddy with possibility. It mirrors drunkenness in its loss of inhibition, as you allow yourself to move in new directions, take risks, and consider ideas that don’t come up in everyday work sessions. Starting to sound like something that could benefit content developers?

Bringing this approach to content marketing and branding is just as effective as it is to creative writing: believing in your product or brand enough to get that into it will allow you to develop the most passionate, genuine message. Taking risks, allowing excitement to get the best of you, sharing too much: people struggle with these liberations out of fear of overexposure. But another writer whose quote fits in well is Neil Gaiman, who argued that “the moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” We believe Mr. Gaiman has a point, so here are a few ways we advise you make the most of “planning drunk”:

  • Take risks. It’s possible that your current methods already work – they get the job done, but they don’t really make a huge impact, they just hit a minimum. But odds are, you didn’t get into this business in order to play it safe all the time; you did it to find interest and excitement. When you’re in a changing market, you have to stay fresh and you have to stay creative, and sometimes the biggest risk is not taking one at all.
  • Don’t be afraid to look stupid. This is something drunk people do exceptionally well, and a perspective you should embrace in your approach to your strategy. There are thousands of good ideas that have gone unexplored because of people’s unwillingness to look like an idiot. Spitballing is all about seeing what sticks – no one remembers the real duffers that fall to the floor, but that one in a million, crazy idea from left field might just be a knockout.
  • Don’t be afraid to show some emotion or to show your audience some love. You don’t have to be that guy who goes around at 1AM trying to kiss everybody, but if you show your audience that you’re listening and you care, they will return that affection with enthusiasm.
  • Have fun. The best kind of drunk and the best kind of brand strategy, having fun is a surefire way to have a big impact. This is especially true for social media, an arena in which content is often stale, and people can sometimes be very unpleasant. People respond well to happiness, even more so to humor, and a playful media effort can have very positive results. If you can get hyped about your project, so will others.

It’s easy to overlook the “sober” half of the process; after all, the drunkenness is the fun part, right? Not necessarily. The drunken planning may be more exciting, but assessing and implementing those ideas can be just as satisfying, if not more so. Seeing these moments come to fruition takes some pruning and preparation. When you’re bouncing ideas around, you can’t slow down to worry about whether or not something will be valuable; you just write it down to evaluate once you have time. But that time has come, and here’s how to get the most out of your drunken idea generation:

  • Clean up. You wouldn’t leave a mess in your friend’s kitchen (we hope), so why would you leave a mess in the cutting room? Once you’ve amassed a series of creative, crazy ideas, go through them and deliberate over which ones could be actionable. A word of caution: as you sober up, you may find your cautiousness returning in full force. Don’t be too hasty to dismiss ideas until you’re absolutely sure they’re not usable.
  • Get some rest. Give your ideas some time to percolate. As with writing, a small buffer period lets you look at your work with fresh eyes. Let the partially formed ideas stew a little, reduce in your mind until you’re left with a more cohesive, more condensed result. You don’t have to wait too long – doing so might make you miss the window of opportunity – but anywhere from a few hours to a day is enough, if you can spare it.
  • Follow up. You’d call that girl or guy you met last night, maybe take up a new friend on an offer to go golfing, right? You don’t want to let that sort of opportunity slip up with your newly discovered content plan, either. Get the ball rolling on your actionable ideas, and move on anything that needs to be implemented right away.
  • Don’t overcommit. When you have everything you want to do figured out, make sure you leave yourself some flexibility. At the end of all your drunk planning, you are probably bursting with ideas for action. But don’t be so hasty to get these ideas going that you end up crushed with obligations and responsibilities. When you overplan, you don’t give yourself any opportunity to do something unique and spontaneous. Brand and content strategy require a lot of adaptation and quick action, so if your schedule is full and your strategy is set in stone, you prevent the ability to take advantage of fortuitous events and steer clear of danger.

But wait, there’s a third act to this. What, you think we’d forget about the hangover? But you won’t need Advil and a bagel sandwich for this one. When you plan drunk and publish sober, the excitement of the process doesn’t just fall off a cliff; you might be tired, but if all has gone well, you’ll still be itching to keep working. This hangover provides the grounds for future projects. Now all you need are the materials.

Once you’ve picked out the viable ideas from planning drunk and published the polished results, there are still going to be little bits and pieces lying around, extras that might have been good ideas but didn’t quite fit, or lines of thought that you didn’t stop to explore in the heat of the moment. They’re the flask in the couch cushions, the half case of beer behind the fridge. Anyone up for a little