“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.” Ernest Hemingway
When Hemingway wrote that snippet into his own notebook, he was telling himself that he is a writer, that he knows this to be true because of his past work.
He had enough faith in himself to overcome the doubtful moments that nagged at him, chipped at his confidence , and he allowed himself the audacity to believe that he would continue to be a good writer.
All that he needed, was the truth written out into one sentence.
You can try this yourself and through practice you will understand what he meant about a truthful sentence. He saw a power in the ability to get over the crappy sentences and finally, after a few lines, or a few hours, write a damned good sentence that summed up a truth seen or heard.
A sentence that stands alone and tells a reader something of value. Something a reader could accept as a reality. It doesn’t mean that the truth is a fact — that’s different.
When a writer is faced with problems about what to write or how to write it, it normally happens somewhere around the beginning, or in the middle of a story, often, the ending can be troublesome, too.
Faith is a powerful part of the human mind, apparently.
I say apparently because it’s not exactly something you can feel or see. Faith tends to be the silent super power which only comes into effect after some testing times, right at the last moment, the powerful strength of faith will step up to the plate and make itself known.
A writer is always having her faith tested. It’s a tough business and requires all types of human spirit qualities to keep going in the darker times.
Faith is a bit higher up the ladder of quality-things than simple self-confidence. I say that because many people seem to drop a dose of arrogance into their self-confidence to keep it on the boil — faith is different.
Faith is knowledge that something is possible, knowing that if you sit down to write, you will highly likely end up with a story. Doubt can say, “yeah, sure, but it’ll probably turn out to be crap,” faith in yourself will tell you who you are, that you don’t write crap, and if you do, it’s just your way of sifting through to find the bones of a story.
Faith is knowledge, it is self-confidence without the ego pushing everything away — wasting your precious energy on fruitless battles of the mind.
Faith is silently opening a pathway for you to find the truthful sentence which will jump up, grab you by the ears and cause you to continue writing after that one truthful sentence has been written.
It will bring determination and self-confidence with it, bolstered by a new found strength that we felt had previously abandoned us during the long desert march.
For this to happen, the sentence, you must sit and write sentences, one after the other. Observations and ideas that seem to promise something. This will bring something worthwhile, and faith in your ability as a writer, your knowledge of self, will bring the sentence out right.
Always watching Your Characters
Ernest Hemingway was a great writer, his work is a good model for us to learn from. He was a tough man who loved bullfights and hunting, a man of his times. One thing that was not fashionable for a man of his times, was to be a sensitive man. Hemingway was clearly a sensitive person who looked and saw, observed the gesture and the nuances of action that passed him by each day.
He could drink anybody under the table, but I bet, throughout the night of drinking, he didn’t miss a trick if an interesting character entered the bar. The writer’s mind, the mind of a sensitive, observing person, never sleeps. A thousand tabs open and each one an interesting page, wearing the mind down with input, and more input. A writer’s mind.
When we sit and write, or have trouble writing, we must rely on our faith that we know we are a writer.
We have already proved it, again and again we sat at the keyboards and clicked away as we saw words form into sentences, ideas formulate into paragraphs until a page became part of a story. We proved it before and we have the right to believe faithfully in our abilities.
Working as a writer gives us self-knowledge. This knowledge is a map of the heart and mind which will guide us to our goals and allow us to trust that faith in an outcome after work will reap great rewards.