The Dirty Truth About Writing Your Heart Out

Those crazy things you wished you’d known before you gave your heart away to the muse.

Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
– Gene Fowler

  • Writing Blindness (noun): The temporary blindness that occurs from getting sucked into your writing (or reading). Can be caused by writing for hours straight, writing in the dark, stabbing yourself in the eye with a pen after rewriting a sentence 567 time and still hating it, forgetting to eat, consuming 5 pots of coffee in one sitting, or falling asleep without realizing it because you have been up for 48 hours at a time.
    • If writing blindness occurs, try the following:
      • Try opening your eyelids.
      • If they won’t open you should probably feel your way to the bed, couch, or other soft object and sleep.
      • If they are already open, blink.
      • Try drinking some water, coffee, or whisky
      • Attempt some sort of physical activity
    • To avoid writing blindness, try the following:
      • Set a timer. When it goes off do something active for 5 minutes.
      • You know those times when you are staring blankly into space trying to figure out what to write next? Do something active that allows your mind to wander instead of just sitting there. Take a walk. Ride a stationary bike. Go for a swim. Getting a bit more blood circulating might spark the insight your brain is trying to come up with.
      • Make sure you have water near you (in a closed container, especially if you are as clumsy as I am).
      • If you feel yourself getting frustrated, set the pen down and walk away. I keep a large bottle of vino in the fridge for these moments.

Belle, the book bunny, suggests wearing eye protection:


Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
– Christopher Hampton

  • You will spend hours researching the answer to a seemingly pointless question.


Oscar is working diligently on editing his science fiction manuscript when he realizes what he thinks is an inconsistency in his capitalization. He has capitalized every alien species in his work except the word human. Should human be capitalized? Normally no, but it seems weird not to since it is being used in the same context as the other alien species’ names. Or should he not be capitalizing the other names? Unsure how to proceed, Oscar heads to the Google experts to find out and spends hours lost in the strange rabbit holes that the question produced. To fall down Oscar’s rabbit hole, start here:

All names have been changed to protect the writers discussed in this post.

Belle says get back to work or she’ll eat all your books:


Writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.
– Paulo Coelho

  • You will turn your camera on to take a picture of something and scare the bejesus out of yourself because it is on selfie mode and you haven’t showered in days.
    • I have learned the hard way that selfies are not for writers. Half the time I look more dead than alive (and those are my best days).
    • If you take good selfies then shut up. I don’t want to hear about it.

My selfie versus Belle’s selfie. Nailed it:


It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
– Robert Benchley

  • You stare at strangers in public. What’s worse is what you are doing in your head while staring. No, I’m not talking about picturing them naked (well maybe, especially if you write erotica or romance). I’m talking about imagining the personal parts of their life, their struggles, their dilemmas, and what you could do on paper to make their life even worse than it already is.

Belle says to stop staring at people. It’s creepy. This is why you have no friends. She also kind of wants to eat that book you left on the couch.


Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.
– Ashish Chauhan

  • When people ask you how your writing is going, there is a 75% chance you will collapse on the ground, sobbing. Especially if you’ve just started querying for your new manuscript. Everyone already thought you were crazy. Now they know it.
    • Spend some time Googling well known authors who got rejection letters. This will make you feel better. I promise.

Belle says that she can take care of rejection letters for you. They taste pretty similar to books.


When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I am a grown up they call me a writer.
– Isaac Bashevis Singer

  • Even when you are supposed to be relaxing, you are working on your book. You can’t escape it. Sometimes you actually talk to the characters. Your spouse has worried endlessly about your obsession. People think you are hard of hearing because your mind wanders to your book in the middle of a conversation. You might get fired from your day job because you can’t focus.

Belle is working on her manuscript titled Salad Leaves and Book Pages.


It’s splendid to be a great writer, to put men into the frying pan of your imagination and make them pop like chestnuts.
– Gustave Flaubert

In spite of all the pitfalls of being a writer, you will continue on. Why? Because your heart sings when you compose those words on pages. Because you understand the world better when you write. Because you HAVE to.