Writer’s Desk: Hemingway and the One True Thing

Ernest Hemingway (photo by Lloyd Arnold, 1939)
Ernest Hemingway (photo by Lloyd Arnold, 1939)
Much of a writer’s life is taken up with various anxieties: Where’s the plot going? That paragraph seems a little flat, should I give it another shot? Is the check in the mail?

That means, then, that a lot of what constitutes writing is working through those anxieties, lassoing them to your work as needed.

In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway described what he did when dead-ended on a story:

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.

Once you have that one true thing, you also have your foundation.

Build from that.

(h/t Open Culture)

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