Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Does Writing Feel?

"Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed."
--Original Speaker Unknown, possibly sports columnist Red Smith

The above sentiment, even though it's not clear who first said it, is often referenced by writers about their work. While it may often be meant at least partially tongue-in-cheek, there must be at least some sense of connection with the figurative meaning of the words (one would hope not with the literal meaning...) for it to have been repeated so many times through the decades.

Honestly, though, this isn't a sentiment that really rings true to me. Lots of times, especially when I'm doing a first draft or when I'm getting to the point where I think a story reads the way I want it to read, I find it to be an exciting, enjoyable process. Some days, it's even sort of an escape from less pleasant parts of my life. Now, that's not to say that there aren't some days when I find it hard to get words down on the page, but that's almost always due to distractions or something else which diverts my focus away from my work. And, yes, there are some aspects of revising, especially for longer works, that I find tedious and difficult to get my hands around still. But even then there's that light at the end of the tunnel, that satisfaction when I make changes that feel right to me.

Some people say that they write because they have to write; that the stories inside them need to come out. That's definitely not the case for me. I could stop writing easily -- maybe too easily if past history is any guide -- and only feel occasional regret or disappointment that I hadn't kept up with it. But I don't want to do that, I want to press on and reach some of the larger writing goals I have for my life. And, to be fair, if I didn't make a concerted effort at some of those goals, then I probably would feel more serious regrets. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow...

The last couple of weeks, when I've had the energy, writing has been an escape. When I haven't had the energy, I've still made a point of putting in some time on it every day, to keep up momentum. Because, as I wrote in one of my first blog posts, writing begets writing and not writing begets not writing. And I know that I want to keep writing, because lots of days it feels pretty darn good.

How does writing feel for you? What are your favorite parts and your least favorite parts?


  1. Great post! Writing is definitely an escape for me. I get caught up in my characters' lives. I love the action, romance, and witty banter. I dislike revising. It's difficult for me when I'd rather feel the rush of writing a first draft.

  2. Thanks for sharing this; I definitely connected to your perspective. I don't often feel an overwhelming compulsion to write or have characters begging me to tell their stories like other authors mention, but I love writing more every day and I never want to give it up again.

  3. I'm one of the the must write people. I have to write or I get grumpy and short tempered. If I'm not writing stories, I write music and put lyrics to it. Not writing makes me feel like crap.

    My first drafts feel like I open a vein and bleed the words. But the edits are where you see the light at the end of the tunnel. That I can so sympathize with.

    I hope your good feeling days continue to outweigh the bad.

  4. I probably take the given quote in a slightly different way. When I've heard it, it's played as giving of yourself when you write, in my silly mind, at least. Just as the blood running through your veins is a part of you, the words forming in your mind and spilling out onto paper or the screen is a part of you. I understand the pain correlation but I focus less on that aspect and more on the action taking something precious like your blood/story idea and pouring it forth to the world.

    I must write. Even if, heaven forbid, this path of publishness does not end in me being published in my genre of desire, I still have to put the stories down, get them out of my head. And it isn't a bad thing. It's a wonderful outlet, expression, channel through which I can release.

  5. Thanks, everyone for your comments and good wishes. I apologize for not getting back around here to reply sooner. I am glad to hear that it resonated so well with many of you.

    Angela, that's an interesting different spin on the quote -- I like that way of thinking about it. :)