Writing and Bleeding and Spilling Ink – Get Your Research Published
‘There is nothing to writing,’ Ernest Hemingway wrote. ‘All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’ Concise in cutting to the chase, Hemingway’s is a sentiment many authors can share despite a typewriter now being an artefact of the kind that your mother – or probably your grandmother, come to think of it – used to write her college essays. Writing can be painful, after all, but it can also be delightful, and Hemingway’s metaphor can be understood in many ways.
Writing is a process just as blood flowing through the veins is, and the ink pumped out by a pen moving across paper is not unlike the blood pumped through the body by a heart. Although the author’s thoughts are obviously the source of what is written, one can certainly argue that the very act of writing has a power of its own. The ways in which words are woven along the tidy lines of a page (or screen) can differ markedly from the way thoughts and plans develop within the mind. What an author actually ends up writing may achieve that author’s goals, but it rarely turns out exactly how he or she envisioned. Letting the process flow is essential, then, but it seems productive to think of it as a gain as well as a loss – as blood travelling through the vessels of a healthy author rather than bleeding out of them.
The best writing does come from the heart, after all, whether a professor is authoritatively reporting the latest results of his scientific trials or a poet is dancing love verses across the page. Writing that comes from the heart has an authentic voice, even if it is formalised for professional documents, and tends to convey both integrity and confidence. Confidence is also suggested by excellent writing, which plays a significant part in establishing authority in written texts. Now, no one could deny that there is often some bleeding involved in achieving a writing style that clearly and accurately communicates complex information effectively, but the effort is worth it. Incorrect grammar, sloppy proofreading and neglect of publisher guidelines are like weak vessels ready to burst all hopes of successful publication and compromise an author’s reputation. Writing from the heart means that writing is very closely associated with its creator and should be an accurate representation of his or her abilities.
Like any art or science, writing takes some dedication and does not simply come as an accompaniment to expertise in other areas of specialisation. This is to say that one needs to learn to be an author just as one needs to learn to be a scientist or a historian. Plenty of practice will exercise the pen and the mental process of writing much as jogging exercises the heart and the entire cardiovascular system. Like exercise, however, it is essential to push a little further with each writing project. Retain what you learn from earlier writing experiences, strive for excellence in the mechanics of writing to ensure precision and elegance, and push your thoughts at every opportunity to the furthest reaches your writing can take you. This is what might be called the productive spilling of ink, and it may feel all too akin to the spilling of blood that Hemingway felt at his typewriter, but there is no doubt that it will strengthen rather than weakening your writing muscles and improve your body of written work.
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