“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” –Ernest Hemingway
Just write it. Sit down and do it. I have posted so rarely on this blog. My excuses are numerous. It is mostly fear that holds me back from sitting here and pounding out something which I feel is worthy of publishing.
When I was twenty, about three months after my father died, I suffered what I thought was a debilitating illness: writer’s block. I could not write a word. My fear of imperfect sentences and poor composition had me sitting and staring at a blank page for hours. Finally, about a week after a paper on Poe paper was due, I went to my American Literature professor to ask for help. I wanted to know where I could find a cure my writer’s block.
My instructor, Professor Roy Harvey Pierce, was a distinguished and brilliant professor of American Literature. He was also a generous and helpful soul to a silly twenty year old. He told me that in his experience as a college professor, writer’s block was usually a symptom of other emotional issues going on in a young person’s life. Then he suggested that I would be best helped by seeking professional advice. After giving me a week’s extension on the Poe paper, he wished me luck and sent me on my way.
Leaving his office, I remember thinking that he was patient and kind about my issue, but he also seemed rather grave with me. I knew he did not completely believe in my problem, but he did not discount it either. Quite frankly, I did not understand what he was telling me. So back I went to my on campus room, and continued to stare at a blank page for the rest of the evening.
A few years later, I realized what my problem was about writing: I wasn’t writing anything good, because I wasn’t writing anything at all. The anxiety of not writing anything good made me afraid to write at all. I had to write a lot of bad stuff before anything decent would come out of me. So, after writing a lot of terrible papers for school, I got into the habit of writing almost daily. Although I did not write anything profound or brilliant throughout this period, my writer’s block disappeared for good.
There is a cure for writer’s block! Sit down, and just write.
My fear of posting on this website is similar to writer’s block. While I am not afraid of writing, I do fear sharing my writing on the internet. Some blogger said something like, to get an audience on a blog, one has to write epically. Write epically? That is daunting.
Maybe that is not the point. As Ernest Hemingway says, “Just write one true sentence….” No truer sentence was never written by anyone. Thanks Ernest! Thank you Professor Pearce. You changed my life.