The One Habit That Will Make Your Writing Memorable

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

Dramatic? Perhaps. But not wrong. So much writing is like a walking corpse: dead, mechanical, and draining. 

Writers are not immune from this. In fact, those that don't consider themselves a writer often end up sharing something a bit more honest than those that claim the title. Why? Because to them, writing is still scary, and awkward. They run away from it until they can't. They must share something; a story burns within them that they must set free.

I stand to learn a great deal from them.

Yes, the flow, cadence, or grammar may be a bit clunky. Maybe they use too many metaphors and grip clichés as a crutch. But they're bleeding.

As I attempt my daily discipline—write for myself before the world—I must admit the challenge in the sea of content. I sympathize with the businesses I attempt to serve well: there is so much shouting, pontificating, and promise-making. Content clutters our emails before we sip our first cup of coffee.

So how do we break through? How do we make music instead of more noise?

We learn from those who run away from the craft.

I've had the privilege of telling stories for people who don't like to spin their own tales. And each one of them only asks me to write for them when they're ready to bleed. They have something that's pounding to get out; although they are often fearful of publishing their own words the inner passion cannot be ignored.

This is a good model for us writers. We can feel as if we must share at a certain clip—we must be constantly writing. But unless we are constantly feeling, we certainly must not constantly write.

This is not an excuse to run away from disciplined writing. On the contrary, this is an invitation to do the hard work of sitting with ourselves, feeling our fears, reflecting on the people we love (and hate), and then going to the writing shed.

Writing is an expression of the life around us; we must let our world steep inside us before we write.

We must immerse ourselves in public events. We must listen to strangers. We must observe and reflect. Let us not run to the pen too fast. Rather, may we have the courage to sit with those feelings, thoughts, and fears that make a story worth reading.

To all my fellow writers, keep on feeling.

Dave Hamilton