“There is nothing to writing”

“There is nothing to writing.” Ernest Hemingway.

There. That sentence says it. It has to be true. After all, a well established writer said it. There is nothing to writing! Nothing much to it besides sitting down and spelling out words. Nothing to it but to write. But how do writers pen the stories they come up with? Do they simply sit there and enslave to the action and nothing more? I’m not quite sure the answer is that clean cut or in focus.

How do you begin to write? I hear some writers carry out intensive research on any topic they are writing about months before they even write one word belonging to the story. Others sit there and draw plot outlines after plot outlines to clear out the story to get to a clear map. Others yet again write down a long detailed synopsis, then break it down into chapters, then break those into events and then character interactions, and a heavy character analysis. They basically know every detail, every kerb, every tooth and nail of the story before they sit down and deliver the story. Yet, there are few, very few amongst these very organized authors – some who simply know that they have a story to tell and there is nothing more to it. These few sit there with no plan, no character outlines, no specific events and pivots pinned down. All they have is the big picture, from point A to point Z with all the points from B to Y in the middle. They simply begin to write – a journey filled with discovery and puddles, beautiful scenic routes and ugly monsoons. For them, there is literally nothing to writing, nothing but the fact that “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed” (also Hemingway, continuing from ‘There is nothing to writing’).

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am from this breed of writers, where I have no plan, I have no characters but the vague ghosts of who they will finally become. I simply have a story and an urge to start. I am only aware till that moment the pen hits the paper, and from then on, I am simply a medium through which a story, a poem, or an article sometime come to life. It’s scary to admit but there is great abandon in the way I approach writing, whether it’s good or not.

However, as of recent, I’m trying my hand at being a disciplined writer. My first step toward it? A white cork board, and my second novel broken down into several post-it notes pinned to its surface.

Have I used the post-it notes? No. Have I used the board? Umm, I’ve at least hung it. That’s got to count, right? Never you mind that this novel is completely written down and I’m only redrafting a final version.

At least I’m trying. There is great thrill in writing so blindfolded though. To simply take a germ of an idea and start – never knowing where I’ll end up. It’s something close to how my life is.

Perhaps you should give it a go if you haven’t before. Just stare at a blank page or screen and start with one word.

Believe Ernest Hemingway and I when we say there is truly nothing to writing…you take a page and pour yourself out onto it in various forms and voices, through various stories.

Writing, in its own right a journey worth traveling.

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