Perhaps the most well known quote about writing belongs to Ernest Hemmingway. He said, “There is nothing to writing, all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Why he really said that, I don’t know for sure. But we writers connect to that sentence. We understand the pain, the agony, the suffering that come with writing. Odds are the words you are pouring are the ones that have brought most pain to your heart. Perhaps they are the darkest moments in your life.
And at times, we bleed.
Stephen King, another great writer, wrote in his book On Writing, “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Another writer, C. B. Mosher, said, “Writing is torture. Not writing is torture. The only thing that feels good is having written.” Ah, can I get hands up if you feel this way? We love to see our words on paper – it doesn’t really matter whether they are published or not (although we would prefer the latter). In the process, however, we fret. We wrack our brains for the right words, or fight the myth called writer’s block.
And yes, here’s another great insight about a writer’s life from Dani Saphiro:
“The writing life requires courage, patience, persistence, empathy, openness, and the ability to deal with rejection. It requires the willingness to be alone with oneself. To be gentle with oneself. To look at the world without the blinders on. To observe and withstand what one sees. To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks. To be willing to fail – not just once, but again and again, over the course of a lifetime. ‘Ever tried, ever failed,’ Samuel Beckett once wrote. ‘No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ It requires what the great editor Ted Solotoroff once called endurability.”
Truth to be told, no writers become one for the money. If we want to be wealthy, we wouldn’t be writers. We would be insurance agents, accountants, contractors. We wouldn’t be writers if we want fame; we would become celebrities, politicians, actresses. We become writers because the calling is too great, because we don’t know how to not write. There is no hyped life of a writer. We face constant possibility of being rejected every day. Every time we publish our work, we are back to ground zero.
But we show up for the work anyway, despite all. Because even though that fear will consume us in the moment, when we let it, we write nonetheless for the joy of it. And before long it doesn’t matter if the words will be accepted by others or not. In that moment of writing, everything else is secondary.
Perhaps one of the best definition of writing comes from Anais Nin, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
Because the best writings are the ones that reflect life. They are the ones that make you pause and remember the most important things – the ones that make us understand a little bit more about the world, and a little bit more about ourselves.
And we write, it seems, because we don’t know how to not write.