ink pen writing on paper

“A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it.”

― Ernest Hemingway


Ernest Hemingway provided us with so many wonderful quotes. But the quote above is one of my favorites. The words are simple, but they speak to me because they are me.


When I’m in a room full of people or talking to someone one-on-one, I struggle with the spoken word. I stumble over my tongue, and at times my mind is frantically searching for something to say. I open my mouth, only to close it again because what I was about to say sounded inane. I often complete the conversation in my mind hours or even days after meeting with the person.


Not so when I write. My daughter will often tell me something that I want to comment on or give advice about, but I can’t seem to form the right words to tell her what I want to say. So, I get off the phone, open an email to her, and I write. And usually, what I write is exactly the advice I knew I wanted to give her but couldn’t figure out the best way to say it.


I think that’s true of most writers. We think in writing even when we’re supposed to be speaking. As though writing is a language unto itself, like Spanish, or Hindi, or Greek. I wish it were. I wish I could sit at a dinner table with my tablet open, and when someone speaks to me, I could quickly write out my response and then either read it to them or pass the tablet across the table and have them read it. I’m kidding, of course, but you writers out there know what I mean.


But, alas, life doesn’t work that way. So, I’ll just accept my gift for what it is and not disparage myself for what I’m not. I can’t sing. I’m not the life of the party or the chatty one at a dinner table.


But, I am a writer, and if I ever hand you a pad with a message scrawled across its pages, realize you’re important enough to me that I’ve taken the time to express myself in the best way I know how.