A few weeks ago I heard this quote by T.S. Elliot, “The job of a writer is to turn blood into ink.” Can I describe to you the moment of enlightenment that flashed in my brain when I heard those words? Well, I’m a writer so, of course, I can.
Over the past couple months I have been struggling to pull ideas out of my head for a current work in progress. I love, love, love the concept, but it’s a difficult one to write. I sit down at my computer and just stare (or click over to Pinterest) and nothing comes. I have the beginning and I see the ending, but, good grief, this middle part is killing me.
I started to wonder if I could finish it or if it was doomed for the graveyard of great ideas. Then, sitting at a table at the For the Love of Reading Conference, clarity came in that one little quote. I can’t even remember who said it because once I heard it my mind was somewhere else entirely.
Writing flows in my veins. There are words attached to the hemoglobin in my blood. It is who I am. But that doesn’t mean it is easy. Sometimes there are too many words or too many ideas and things get a little clogged up. Or the opposite, and things run dry.
But that is what it means to be a writer; that was my epiphany. The process of writing is, as Elliot so eloquently phrased, turning blood into ink. It’s taking what is inside us, sometimes pulling it from the deepest depths, and putting it to paper. It’s sitting and staring until something comes. It’s reading as many books as we can to study the craft. It’s trying new and hard things. It’s squeezing every last drop out onto the page.
I’m working around the clogs and since that day a few weeks ago I’ve written over 20,000 words. I’m digging deep, tapping into my blood supply and extracting the words. Is it easy? Heck no! I’m still not sure how I’m gonna do it. The point is: I am gonna do it. Whatever it takes. It’s in my blood.
How do you get passed writer’s block or motivate yourself to keep writing, even when it’s hard?
Note: Blood to Ink is a new series of posts I will be doing whenever I feel the need to muse over the frustrations and triumphs of being a writer.