Hemingway had a simple trick for overcoming writer’s block. In a memorable passage in A Moveable Feast, he writes:
Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scroll-work or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.
When, for whatever reason, I can’t get myself into a writing groove, I read the above. It brings me solace that even someone as accomplished as Papa at times also had difficulty getting thoughts to paper. As with anything else, I have personalized Hemingway’s – To get started, write one true sentence and made it my own ritual….
I write one solid sentence. Whether it is two or twenty words. I stop. I ponder over it. I edit that one sentence until it says just what I want it to say.
I don’t edit for grammar or sentence structure.
I edit for content.
I edit so it speaks the words I want spoken!
All the while, my brain is now pushing to go to the next, to continue writing the story. However, I don’t. No matter how strong the keyboard’s call.
I fight it.
I go on the porch.
I look out on the day, or evening. I immerse myself in the air. I listen to the sounds, or lack thereof. I take a couple deep, cleansing breaths. Breaths that send oxygen coursing through my body and up into my brain. I wait until the draw is so strong, so intense, I can no longer do battle. It is then, and only then, I re-enter the house. I stalk my laptop. It is now my one and only desire.
I take my seat.
One final time, I read the sentence. I make sure it is “a true sentence,” place my fingers upon the home row, and let the words flow.
I am an independent, self-published teller of tales,
an author, as of yet, scarcely any renown.
However, as a storyteller, I know who I am,
and with that persona, I am both confident and comfortable. I invite you to visit my website,
and/or Amazon Author Pages
if you are so inclined please
purchase a copy and leave a review.
I write of the damaged and broken, because that is the norm. For each person who overcomes their demons, there are hundreds, if not thousands, who do not.