Thursday, June 13, 2013

Writer's Block

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

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."

Sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia, could have been the title of this short article, but then only a food scientist would understand.

Sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia is a brain freeze, the pain you feel when one takes a big gulp of one's favorite frozen concoction on a summer's day or one chomps down on a Popsicle fresh from the freezer. Boom - there is a massive pain in your forehead. Blood vessels dilate as you hold the icy cold in your mouth, pain receptors release prostaglandins, increasing sensitivity to further pain, and the trigeminal nerve signals the brain to the problem. Stop what you are doing, but you don't.

A brain freeze is not unlike what happens to writers when they can't think of what to say. And the harder you try to think, the worse the block gets. Boom - one gets a headache just thinking about thinking about something to write. Writers call it writer's block.

Hemingway had some good advice on writer's block. Stop what you are doing, relax and let the mind take over. And, this is important, write what is true.

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