Typewriter Bleeding

When you tell people you’re a writer, you get a lot of questions that are difficult to answer.

The basic one’s aren’t so bad: “What do you write?”; “What’s the genre?”; “How long have you been writing?”

The trouble comes when people ask you how you come up with ideas and what your process is and what do you hope to accomplish in the long run. These seem like straightforward questions but the process of writing–more specifically the process of discovering who you are as a writer–is difficult to explain.

Some days we plan. We write outlines and make notes in preparation for a scene. We think of all the details we need to include. We decide what we’re going to write and where it fits into our story.

Some days we research. We look at history, science, and culture. We decide how much we want the real world to influence our fictional spaces. We get lost in all the possibilities for fine detail and nuance.

But some times, we bleed. Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Some days we open our laptops and in a moments that can only be described as transcendent, beautiful, and perfect, words flow from our hearts and souls through our fingertips and onto the page. We aren’t just creating–we’re discovering. It’s as though the words are there just waiting to be discovered and today, for whatever reason, our access to them is easy. There’s no thinking, there’s no deliberation. We just bleed.

And while these inspired days often feel few and far between, they are what drives writers. We crave those experiences that reminds us of this: “I am a writer. This is who I am and this is what I am meant to do.”