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Write One True Sentence

 Write One True Sentence

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

Sometimes I get writer’s block.

It’s usually when I’m withholding the truth.

It’s usually when I’m writing something with the purpose of selling something instead of just sharing my experiences freely like I have been for the past couple of years.

Ernest Hemingway had a simple trick for overcoming writer’s block. He would simply write one true sentence.

“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.” 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. 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 throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

One true sentence.

That’s all it takes to get words on the page.

Here, I’ll model…

Right now I’m sitting outside in the backyard of a lovely home in Sherman Oaks, CA.

As I write I’m taking deep, full belly breaths and sinking into my body. I’m almost in a meditative state.

I’m listening to Explosions In The Sky on Spotify. My best writing is when I sit down with some Explosions In The Sky, Bon Iver, or the Psybient station on Songza and I just let go.

Turn off the filters. Turn down the inner critic. And just let the fuck go.

I pour out whatever and whatever needs to come out of me in that moment instead of trying to manufacture something with the intent of selling something.

I think that’s why writing sales pages is so hard.

It’s writing that has the sole purpose to sell a product or service. I used to have resistance against writing them. I still do a little.

But if what you’re selling is joy, bliss, and freedom, then it’s your responsibility to the world to become a master salesperson.

At least that’s how I see it.

I’m sipping on peppermint tea. I’m wearing a purple v-neck t-shirt from H&M and a pair of Thai Pants. I wouldn’t be wearing a shirt, except I’m staying with guests right now.

I’m not really a fan of clothes anymore.

In fact, I don’t think I ever really was.

I just had a memory pop up from being seven or eight, coming home from church, walking in the front door and immediately disrobing. I used to go from zero to underwear in 5 seconds or less.

I’m not a nudist, but close to it. I’ve done some work in retreats and workshops that included nudity. One thing that’s for sure, there’s no hiding when you’re standing in front of a room of people completely naked.

In an ideal world, I’d be shirtless and outdoors at least half of the day.

I’ll get there soon.

The Conference For Men is actually a conference now. 81 tickets are accounted for.

Men from three continents are converging in San Diego in three weeks to level up their lives and walk away with greater clarity, confidence, and a community of brothers standing behind them.

This has been the hardest undertaking of my life.

In this moment I’m 96% excited and 4% terrified. For months I was 96% terrified and 4% excited.

So much of this experience has sucked. The sleepness nights. The panic attack in New York in December. The crippling anxiety. The fears of running out of money and shutting down my business.

But in this moment I feel nothing but peace. Acceptance. Trust.

And all those other mushy words that you see on your friend’s refrigerators and Instagram feeds.

It feels nice to be through the first and second trimesters.

You see, I’m giving birth right now. Like the miracle of a human being being created from a single sexual union, I’m experiencing the miracle of creating a gathering of extraordinary men from a single idea in my head.

And just like pregnancy, it’s been an extremely uncomfortable process. But when I first step onto the stage and see all those faces staring back at me it’s going to be worth it.

Sometimes I need to remember that I’m totally new at this.

I was having a conversation with my close friend Dave Booda last week and we were talking about our journeys as entrepreneurs. He said something that really resonated with me.

He said something to the likes of, “I recently realized that I’m really new at this. And that where I’m at right now is perfect.”

We’ve both been running our businesses for about the same amount of time, a little over a year. But the way we’ve been showing up is as if we’ve been doing this all of our lives.

I was talking to Erika Lyremark at The Instigator Experience this past weekend in Los Angeles. She used to be a stripper for 9 years, but now she helps women design world-class businesses that make a positive impact. Let’s just say that when she walks in the room, people take notice.

I was talking to her about my business and I asked her for any advice. I asked her to be as direct as possible and not pull any punches.

She just looked at me directly in the eyes and said, “Be Patient.”

Message received.

I stole the quote above from Kamal Ravikant.

Meaning I didn’t just think of that quote on my own. I heard it from Kamal’s speech this weekend at The Instigator Experience.

So maybe I should have said, “Quote by Ernest Hemingway via Kamal Ravikant.”

But then if you reference this quote do you have to say?… “Quote by Ernest Hemingway via Kamal Ravikant via Mike Hrostoski.”

I don’t think so.

Do you know why?

Because you don’t own shit.

Nothing is original.

Everything that you are doing has been done before.

We’re just putting labels on things that have been around for centuries. Do you know how many different types of yoga there are now?

These people didn’t invent breathing and moving your body. But sometimes they pretend they did.

This blog post feels pretty weak so far. I’m going to post it anyway.

The best writing in my opinion is something that makes someone feel something. Something that pulls them so deep into your story that for a moment they forget who and where they are.

The best writing makes you question your viewpoints.

The best writing makes you a better human being.

The best writing opens you up to greater and greater levels of love and openness.

The best writing teaches you through story that we are all the same. That there is no difference between you and I. That the illusion of separateness is a core cause of much of the pain in this world.

The best writing lights a fire under your ass.

The best writing makes you actually do something.

The best writing is the stuff that makes you nervous to hit “Publish.”

I’m getting tired of writing.

And I don’t mean just right now.

Writing is getting harder and harder.

I feel the most alive when I’m in front of another human being, moving my body, or spending time outdoors. Not when I’m sitting behind a laptop.

Connection, Movement, and Nature. Those are my Holy Trinity.

Which is probably why I was so happy on that hike this afternoon with Liz, Kate, and Mike.

I didn’t even have to wear a shirt.

This feels like a good place to end.

I feel complete.

I feel lighter than before.

I feel like I gave you something that will help you the next time you’re stuck.

I feel like I made a difference today.

And that feels pretty damn good.

  • Jon Tiffin

    Simple, effective,…better than you give yourself credit for…and maybe that just the way this works…and that’s perfectly ok…

  • James M. Ranson

    This was not weak at all. In a lot of ways it was exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks especially for sharing Dave’s quote! As a 30yo guy starting essentially from square one, it really resonated with me as well.

    • Mike Hrostoski

      Yeah, I think we forget that at times. I know I do. Resiliency is a lost art in our age of instant gratification.

  • Kendra Tanner

    Great post! Love this: Sometimes I need to remember that I’m totally new at this.

  • Clayton Elliott

    I get writer’s block… Bad sometimes… and often. And this little pearl is what I’m going to remember each time it happens. Thanks Mike!

  • Kate Harvie

    Mike, what you tapped here is how vulnerability – when we allow ourselves to be in that, even for a moment – can empower us to find what we didn’t initially know. And act on it. Thank you for your combination of wisdom & candor.