Writers, The Opening of Veins and Blood Soaked Pages

You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

I’ve talked before about the tenuous link between art and suffering.  My post did not mean that your writing should not come from the darkness within; just that suffering does not equate to good writing.

Everyone experiences melancholy, or rather everyone interesting does.  When a builder experiences depression, they may only share it with a close friend, a partner or a doctor.  When a writer feels sadness creeping over him he also tells his closest friend: the blank page.  This does not make his suffering anymore important just more prominent.

This can be a dangerous practice when producing work for others consumption.  Pour your heart and depression across and into whatever makes you feel better the quickest but do not force that upon readers unless it has more to it than your emotions.


The Walter Wellesley quote does not mean that placing the darkness of your life on the page results in good writing but that a writer must call upon his soul to bring a piece to life.

Stories must have their own lives, their own problems, their own melancholies, giving them yours is like forcing someone to wear your shoes.  Your life, your pain, your experiences make empathising with your character easier but your characters must have their own problems.

So open that vain and smear your narrative with your heartbreak but make sure it is just adding colour to an already interesting plot.

What books have you read that felt like the writer being self-indulgent?

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