Barfer or Bleeder? Which writer are you?

Alright, some of you are probably thinking the title to this post is off-putting, or maybe you think its a base and barefaced attempt to lure in readers for shock value. “Ooooh, I wonder what gross thing I’ll read here! Quick, click on it!”

Sorry to disappoint. What I’m proposing is a discussion of the type of writer you are.


“Gotta get it out. Gotta get it out.”

Barfer: One who spews out masses of words quickly, without an outline, without a predetermined plot or fully developed theme, just going with the flow, following stream of consciousness (nod to Faulkner), letting the muse take him where it will.

When the creative purge is finished, he spends ten times as long editing as he did writing. He develops character sheets after the fact because when he started, he didn’t know who would appear in his book, let alone what their backstory would be. He creates an outline based on the chapters he’s already produced in order to find scenes that he barely remembers he’s written. (I admit, I’m a Barfer, but I do clean up after myself!)

Bleeder: One who agonizes over each and every word, working, massaging, editing-as-she-goes. Her imagery is consistent and engaging from the beginning; her themes well developed long before fingers meet keyboard. She has character profiles for everyone in the book (perhaps even the waitress in the roadside diner) and her thesaurus is dog-eared and tattered.

"Should it be 'horrified' or 'appalled'?

“Should it be ‘horrified’ or ‘appalled’?

When she is finished with her work, she might be missing patches of hair and have nails bitten to the quick, but her edits will consist of fixing a few typos, and maybe changing the middle initial of her main character’s name.

In the end, whether Barfer or Bleeder, Sprinter or Cross-country runner, we all get there in the end as long as we keep going.

2 thoughts on “Barfer or Bleeder? Which writer are you?

  1. I’ve never thought of myself as a barfer, but you know what? I totally am. First drafts are meant to suck, who cares, the real work comes in the editing. That’s how I write all my junk for the paper (and for my blog, too). Huh. Learn something new every day. 🙂


    • AWESOME! From the poll it looks like most of us (though I can’t say this is statistically accurate considering the small amount of votes) are barfers. I wonder what the “other” was…


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