Sometimes when I'm writing, I fear walking away from the page. I've gotten to a certain point, and now nothing good is coming out, and the blinking cursor is mocking me, heightening my anxiety that this writing business is all just a farce. Tonight is such a night. So I started cleaning my house. It needed it so I had good enough reason. But as I set about gathering laundry and scouring dishes, the anxiety of the unwritten page, the lack of ideas, followed me.
So I sat down and picked up Hemingway. This is the passage that leaped off the page at me, gave me permission to walk away.
“I always worked till I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get going, I would sit in front of the fire an 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 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 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 start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written. Up in that room I decided I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was a good and severe discipline.
It was in that room too that I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until the time that I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything, I hoped; learning, I hoped; and I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to it.” - Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.
If you're a writer, it is so necessary to read. I know that seems obvious - I don't know a writer that doesn't love to read. But I would be willing to bet that many writers struggle with the same thing that I do - if I read, I'm not writing, and if I'm not writing, I could fall behind, forget my focus, lose my muse. This is the real farce : that walking away is somehow a form of quitting. No, you just have to have rest your writing, feed it, nourish it. You have to let things influence and inspire you.
What do you think? Who are the writers that most inspire you?