I just asked Neil Gaiman a question on Tumblr, and I don't know if he'll answer. But it turns out that Tumblr's question box has a word limit and doesn't offer html, so I had to edit it down quite a lot. So, here's the long version, because I like it, and in case any authors might stumble across it and have an answer.
There's a piece of writing advice that I've never really been able to get my head around. I most recently heard it in a Harlan Ellison interview on YouTube[1. Dark Dreamers featuring Harlan Ellison, part 2, part 3] -- it's something like, 'Writing is easy -- just open a vein and bleed into your typewriter.'[2. The ask box also didn't allow paragraph breaks.]
I suspect that it's not literally meant to mean, "Write with your own blood, and some dark god will grant you a story that sells," though I could be wrong. (I didn't know that the ideas newsletter from Schenectady was real.) But it's vague, in the way that "Dig deep" is vague -- I'd be surprised if this advice didn't[3. This is where I got cut off.] make perfect sense to anyone who already understands it.
Still, having not made it work so far, I don't know what it's supposed to feel like. And if it is a metaphor, then there must be other metaphors that mean the same thing. So, my question is: do you know of, or can you think of, any other way to say what "Open a vein" says?
EDIT: Neil answered
Here's the original question, which I probably should have copied before submitting it:
Has the writing advice, "Open a vein and bleed on the page," ever been any help to you? It makes sense to me in a sort of abstract way, but I feel like I can't connect with it. Do you know any other ways to say what that means, which might be clearer to someone who doesn't quite get it when it's said like that?
And here's Neil Gaiman's answer:
Not really. “Write stories you really care about, as well as you possibly can, that other people might want to read” has proved much better advice over the years.