Don’t Write One Sentence. Write Two.

naked lunch

You guys, I had writer’s block and then I wrote a sentence. I don’t have writer’s block anymore hurray except I only wrote one sentence and now I feel like hitting my head on kitchen-cabinet doors until I get amnesia and forget that I ever started writing anything.

Maybe it isn’t the blank page that does you in. It’s the many many MANY blank pages. Many. I have to write HOW many pages to finish a complete thought? Why don’t readers just buy my sentence! I WROTE A SENTENCE. IT’S A GOOD SENTENCE.

The problem is, if it’s such a good sentence, everyone will want to read more sentences about the idea or the character or the historical event or the moral outrage that you talked about in your one sentence. Readers will want many many many pages, in fact. This is all my fault. I started it by writing a sentence. A curse upon the blank pages of this pitiless world. Maybe I should go invent a new knickknack or something. It’ll give me a thing to do. A thing that isn’t writing on blank pages.

Or we can write a second sentence.


When your writer’s block is light and based on horror vacui, it’s fair to give yourself room to write *two* sentences before worrying. One sentence proposes a concept. Two sentences is the formation of a story. Please hold your concerns until the story has begun to take shape. Give your writer’s block less room to work.

To demonstrate the power of two consecutive sentences: here is a book meme I found through the blog Daily (w)rite.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Two sentences from a book. That’s all it takes to get readers interested in reading more. Hopefully that’s what it takes to get the writer interested too.

Hey, here are two sentences from William S. Burrough’s novel Naked Lunch:

Lee’s case is urgent. He has to file an immediate affidavit that he is suffering from bubonic plague to avoid eviction from the house he has occupied ten years without paying the rent.

Those are not Naked Lunch‘s opening lines. They are from page 142 of the edition pictured above, which I borrowed from the Marion County public library system. I opened the book at random and there the sentences were. In retrospect Naked Lunch was a good choice for this meme because William S. Burroughs once got so drunk that he accidentally killed his second wife in Mexico while playing William Tell, and skipped the trial when his lawyer fled the country to avoid his own legal problems over a car crash. When Burroughs wrote, the refined sensibilities of well-bred book critics probably did not loom large in his mind. Two sentences from Naked Lunch? ART.




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