|“Hemingway, Angelou, and Bleeding on your Keyboard”
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” This quote has often been attributed to Ernest Hemingway, although there is some question as to the origin. Ernest Hemingway was reportedly a fan of the sports writer Red Smith, who has been attributed with a similar quote: “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” Whoever said it…they knew a thing or two about writing!
Sometimes writing is a difficult and slow process. When the blank page stares back at you, the cursor blinking, your hands poised above the keyboard, frozen pre-sentence…that first word that drips out from your fingertips may as well be a drop of your own lifeblood. There’s also the open raw feeling of pouring your truth onto the page, being honest in the way that even fiction (especially fiction?) must be… all with the knowledge that at some point, that truth will be out there for public consumption, and it will no longer belong to you alone. Your story becomes the reader’s story.
Those are also the moments that make being a writer so worthwhile. Knowing that you’ve given it your all, and that you’ve written something you can be proud of—even though writing that novel wasn’t easy by any means.
Writing books may be hard, but just imagine how difficult it would be if we *couldn’t* write. As Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I’d rather metaphorically bleed on my keyboard than be told I’d never write another word.
If you’re struggling to get the words on the page, don’t let your aspirations of writing award-winning prose stop you from writing less-awesome prose that you can revise later. To paraphrase Voltaire, “perfect is the enemy of the good.” You can mold and shape and whittle down and ultimately fix a terrible first draft, but you can’t revise a blank page.
One of my other favorite writing quotes, also attributed to Hemingway, is a good mantra if you have writer’s block:
“Do not worry. You have always written before, and you will write now.“
Good luck with your writing, and keep it up!