There is nothing to writing

“There is nothing to writing,” according to Ernest Hemingway. “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

That’s one possible approach, I suppose. But, whether you use a keyboard or pen and paper, the techniques and processes of writing are as diverse as literature itself.

Roland Barthes, who wrote and rewrote painstakingly, crossing out and reworking — assiduously, fastidiously — seemed never to be satisfied with his work.

According to Wikipedia, Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road, “often promoted the story about how in April 1951 he wrote the novel in three weeks, typing continuously onto a 120-foot roll of teletype paper.” The story is true — per se — but “the book was in fact the result of a long and arduous creative process. Kerouac carried small notebooks, in which much of the text was written as the eventful span of road trips unfurled.”

There are times when I find the ‘automatic writing’ approach works well for me, but at other times I need to gather material together in whatever order I find it and then take some time later to assemble it in whatever order seems appropriate, refining and compressing as I go. (This is much easier to do with word-processing than it ever was back in the days of little half-sheets of paper, each bearing a single sentence.)

In a way, I think I know what Hemingway was getting at; but he’s only telling half the story.

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One thought on “There is nothing to writing

  1. Many writers have been curious about the non-writing/
    the times when desert winds & crickets are the only sounds
    (not steady keyboard taps)
    The dry season when nothing of value comes/
    when all the little things that usually lend to things productive surprisingly Fail/
    the spaces between the words take over
    lotsa bleeding then too

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