Method Writing

Some days the words would flow from my fingers like a great river, crashing down upon the typewriter keys and splashing up onto the page in a spray of black ink. Some days the words would burn my hands and my face with their fury and passion as they seared themselves into the paper before my eyes. Some days the words were light and airy, seeming to float onto the page as if they had merely drifted into the room through an open window and stuck there.

Other days - days like today - I could write nothing at all.

I read it over again.

The blade glinted as I pulled it from its hiding place, reflecting the pale moonlight into his face. His eyes lit up with a brief dead flash of confusion, followed by a shimmering explosion of pure terror. I raised the knife and brought it down swiftly into his left shoulder, slicing through the flesh and cartilage like it was nothing. I pulled it out again, the wound making a wet sucking noise as I did, almost as if it didn't want to let go. As if he wanted to be murdered.

His screaming reached my ears, an orgasmic cacophony of fear and pain that served only to electrify and invigorate me. The knife came down again and again and I could feel warm blood gushing out over my hands. I will never forget the look

That was as far as I'd gotten. The line was weeks old, but I didn't know how to finish it. Every day I would come sit at my typewriter, staring at the white expanse below the words, reading them over and over again, wracking my brain for some way to continue the story. But none came.

My publisher was becoming annoyed. The manuscript was long overdue, but I still needed more time.

I read the words again, even though I didn't need to. I had long since memorized them, but there was something about actually seeing them on paper that I hoped would give me the answers.

I looked at the clock. It was 11:43. Too early, I thought, to call it another failure of a day and begrudgingly fall into a restless sleep. Perhaps I simply wasn't in the right state of mind. A change of scenery would do well to clear my head. One can't write a gripping tale of suspense in a cozy, well-lit apartment.

I grabbed my coat and a few other things and headed out the door, leaving the accursed page behind.


There was an icy sting to the night air, the deep chill filling me with nervous excitement. The streets were lined with lamps and the buildings plastered with neon signs, the resulting combination an eclectic blend of colors splashed across the pavement like stained glass. A few stories above my head, I could see the warm glow of my apartment through the window.

The streets were empty and quiet. I could hear voices and music leaking out through the walls of the buildings; no doubt everybody had gone inside to escape the cold. The lights and sounds grew fainter as I reached the edge of town and slowly sank into the night.

The park was darker still. I made my way down the winding path, black silhouettes of trees towering around me. I was beginning to wish I had thought to bring a flashlight.

I soon arrived at a bench lit by a single lamp and overlooking a cliff. I stepped around it and leaned down over the safety rail. The sheer rock face dropped away into the sea, and far below I could see a spiderweb of white foam appearing and disappearing as the water churned. I returned to the bench, the soft hiss of the ocean and the sharp scent of the salt air stimulating my senses. A sudden breeze caused me to shiver, and I wrapped my coat tighter around myself.

Silently, I sat and waited for inspiration to come.

It wasn't long before I found it.

Footsteps. Faint at first, but coming closer up the path. I sat still and waited. The sound drew near. I couldn't see well past the glare of the lamp, but a vaguely human shape was beginning to take form.

"Hey buddy, you got the time?"

I checked my watch and told him. 12:17. Only a psychopath would be out here at this time of the night, I thought.

"Thanks." He stepped into the light and took a seat at the other end of the bench, his hands in his pockets. His clothing was dark, but his face a sickly white. Greasy, unkempt hair rolled down his head, with an untrimmed beard to match. He looked thin and malnourished, but wore a look of almost threatening confidence. His eyes were fixed on mine, unblinking.

"So what are you up to?" he asked. His tone was unfriendly.

I told him I was just out enjoying the fresh air.

He stared for a moment, then slowly nodded.

"Mmm." He fell silent again for a moment, then stood suddenly. "Yeah, I get that," he said, walking over to the safety rail and looking down. His right hand gripped the metal bar, but his left remained in his pocket. "Just makes you feel alive, you know? And it's quiet, too. Ain't nobody around to bother you or..." He trailed off, staring down at the water.

I was getting bad vibes from this guy all around. He seemed dangerous. Perhaps coming out here hadn't been a very good idea after all.

"You ever feel like jumping?" He turned to face me and gestured toward the cliff. "I mean, not like really jumping, but just... you know. That nagging urge?" His eyes had lit up and he was clenching and unclenching his hand shakily. "There's a word for it in French: l'appel du vide - 'The Call of the Void'. Ain't that some shit?"

I agreed that it was. I still hadn't moved from my spot. He turned back to the water.

"Man. Ever think about what it'd be like to die?" He gave a long pause, and I wasn't sure if I was meant to answer. I was about to open my mouth when he spoke again. "I wonder how high this is."

I hadn't completed my task, but this man appeared unstable. I told him that it was late and I should probably be getting home.

"Yeah, me too. Hey, I'll walk with you back into town."

I cursed silently, but stood without a word. My heart fluttered when I stepped out of the lamplight, having breached the imaginary threshold of safety. I made my way back into the darkness of the trees.

Suddenly, his left hand flew from his pocket and I saw the shine of something metal in the moonlight. I tensed, anticipating an attack. There was a crunching sound. I opened my eyes, not realizing I had even closed them. The fresh scent of wintergreen tickled my nostrils.

I watched as he put away the roll of mints, wrapped in reflective foil.

"My name's Danny," he said.

I told him mine.

"Hey, man, thanks for talking to me tonight. A lot of people think I'm kind of weird, so I don't really have a lot of friends."

I muttered a quick acknowledgment and quickened my pace. He sped up to match.

"Hey! Wait up!" he shouted. I felt a hand clasp my forearm. I reacted quickly.

The blade glinted as I pulled it from its hiding place, reflecting the pale moonlight into his face. His eyes lit up with a brief dead flash of confusion, followed by a shimmering explosion of pure terror. I raised the knife and brought it down swiftly into his left shoulder, slicing through the flesh and cartilage like it was nothing. I pulled it out again, the wound making a wet sucking noise as I did, almost as if it didn't want to let go. As if he wanted to be murdered.

His screaming reached my ears, an orgasmic cacophony of fear and pain that served only to electrify and invigorate me. The knife came down again and again and I could feel warm blood gushing out over my hands. I will never forget the look in his eyes, of such horror and bewilderment as I carved up his torso like a gruesome Thanksgiving turkey. And I will never forget watching the life fade from him and hearing his screams die down until he grew still and silent.

Leaving the body where it was, I hurled the knife into the ocean and jammed my stained hands into my pockets before returning home. That would do nicely.


When I reentered my apartment, it was just past one. I hung up my coat, but didn't bother washing my hands just yet. I had more pressing matters to attend to.

My writer's block cured, I sat down and went straight to work, the steady click of the typewriter keys chipping away at the night.