“Writing Is Easy; You Just Open a Vein and Bleed” – Red Smith
Just bleed. Dig deep. Give that uncomfortable conversation you never had to your characters. Make your main character yell that painful, honest truth that you’ve never had the courage to say out loud. Bare your soul on the page. Go deep. Be fearless. Doesn’t have to be depressing. Doesn’t have to be serious. The deepest darkest truths can actually be hilarious when you put them on a page and give them to a quirky character to speak. Yes, bleeding your heart out over your keys is difficult. But this is where the universal truth of writing comes from. This is why I write.
IRL I’m kinda funny. Quirky. People tend to view me as someone who’s witty, upbeat, who has their shit together and is relatively stable (apart from my mildly unhealthy Star Wars obsession). I don’t often get emotional and lose my cool. That said, I do feel things. I have all the feels and unlike many people, I don’t have the ability to use the usual tools to drown them (like booze or Xanax). I have to do things – like sit with them. And fricking meditate. Anyway, I digress. The thing is, I wasn’t one to share my feelings openly. And as a result, for a long time, people found it hard to get to know me and vice versa. I thought the way I felt and viewed the world was entirely unique, and I felt very lonely. Then this thing happened. I took what I felt and how I saw things and I started writing.
And eventually this got layered into a story that became a script. And I showed it to the world. And this weird thing started to happen – first with friends and family and then with incredibly smart, talented people in various production companies and agencies – people related to my script and started to share their own very personal experiences with me. I discovered my feelings were actually universal. By putting a bit of my blood on the page, I’d (without realizing it) given other people a chance to open up too and helped them feel a bit less lonely. I’d given us both a bit of validation. And I suddenly felt a little less crazy in this crazy world. It was/is such a gift. (This is not to say that I think my writing is life changing or anything, I’m just pointing out that by me being vulnerable through my writing, I’d unwittingly allowed other people to be vulnerable too).
Truth be told, I don’t get people who say writing is easy. To me, it might start that way. And then it gets hard. Is this scene boring? What is this character struggling with? What does she/he really want to say but doesn’t? I also have this tendency that I’ve only just become aware of to subconsciously break dark moments with humor instead of letting them play out. Truth be told, I’ve been doing this my whole life. Then there’s structure – it’s vital. You gotta have it. But you gotta make the script refreshing enough that it’s entertaining and surprising, but not so out there that you literally don’t lose the plot. That stuff right there, is hard enough. Now layer in characters that need to be real and relatable – complexity, themes, etc. It just gets harder. But like most things in life, the hard stuff is the most rewarding. And that’s why you/I need to bleed. That’s where the good stuff is. Consider this blog the leech-pin to good writing. So stick a knife in your fingers and start bleeding…
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