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What Is One True Sentence?

To get started, write one true sentence.

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 scrollwork 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 to writing I read the above. I have personalized Hemingway's - To get started, write one true sentence....

I write one good 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 it for grammar or sentence structure.

I edit it for content.

I edit it so it speaks the words I want spoken!

All the while, my brain is now pushing to go to the next, but I wait. I go on the porch. Take a couple of deep cleansing breathes. Go back to my laptop, read the sentence, make sure it is "a true sentence" and then let the words flow forth. And without fail, the words flow.

That was before this pandemic. Now, I am experiencing something deeper than writer’s block, I am experiencing a profound loss of desire to write, as well as an emotional overload. Each emotional nerve ending is under constant barrage. I feel the pain of all the suffering that has engulfed the world. I can’t separate myself from it. Medication, wine, beer, deep breathing… nothing seems to stave on the onslaught of empathetic overload.

Tomorrow, I am going to try the above routine. I am going to see if I can channel Papa and write one true sentence, and then another, and then another.

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