The Worst Sentence in the World

From S.E. Hood: thanks to Joe Bunting of The Write Practice for inspiring today’s post. His ebook, 14 Prompts, suggests beating perfectionism and writer’s block by attempting to write “the worst sentence in the world.” It got me thinking, which got me writing. This is the result.  🙂

The worst sentence in the world is being a writer.


Writers are born with a life sentence. Our minds reel with the best way to string words together. Obsess about whether “about” or “over” is a better choice of words here. Debate whether a period or a semicolon should go there.

We conjure up people that have never and will never exist. Let them live in our heads like imaginary friends, telling us all about themselves, captivating us with their larger-than-life personalities. Yet we’ll spend hours dreaming up what kind of heck to put them through; trying to discover the most shocking or poignant ways to kill them off.

Ideas captivate us. Words fascinate us. Stories drive us.

Writers have to write. It’s hardwired into our DNA. There is no discussion. There is no argument.

But sometimes, we just can’t write. Words won’t come. Characters are silent. We stare at a blank screen or find other things to do because we just can’t do it.

You know what that’s like?

Imagine being dipped in boiling oil, then scrubbed down with sandpaper. Imagine swallowing a piece of cactus with all the spines intact. Imagine listening to an orchestra of scraped chalkboards and squeaky brakes.

No. More accurately, imagine a spectral sunrise. The music of rain and thunder. A soft wind rustling through pine trees. Rolling hills and undulating waves. A baby’s laughter, an old man’s smile. A hug shared between friends. Dreams hoped for, dreams realized. Dreams that will never be.

Imagine beauty that breaks your heart. Something divine, a hint of heaven. Your heart can recognize it, your soul can feel it, your entire being longs to express it.

But you can never quite capture the intangible with words.

Writers write, knowing words will always fall short. Knowing that perfection is impossible. And sometimes that knowledge overwhelms us, making us doubt our own desires and ask ourselves, “what’s the point?”

But writers find a way to write.

To see the beauty and paint some small glimpse of it with words.

It’s the worse sentence in the world, being a writer.

But somehow, some way . . . it’s also the best sentence in the world.

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4 thoughts on “The Worst Sentence in the World

  1. Spot on!! You nailed it exquisitely in this marvelously insightful post. The opening pun is of such brilliance that I wish I had thought of it first. Were you intending a ghostly sunrise…or a spectacular sunrise?? Capturing the intangible with words…yes, yes, and more yes!! That is what the writer strives for. To wring emotion from the reader…to edify, stupefy, beautify! Your post begs the question…how many times did you rewrite this to bring it to this level of magnificence?? Did inspiration flow unchecked from your pen or did you craft the words, fashion the sentences, structure the whole? By the way, your introductory note explains why I do so little writing…apparently it has to be preceded by a little thinking!!


    • Thank you!
      Spectral also pertains to light and color, does it not? It’s related to spectra and spectrum… that’s the image I was going for.
      I wouldn’t say inspiration flowed unchecked from my pen, but I did manage to write this in a couple of hours and only wrote one draft, editing as I went.
      Less thinking probably would lead to more writing! And yet, writing does require a little bit of thought sometimes. 🙂


  2. Shirley Holloway

    Wow, you do have a way with words. Keep it up, write your book and we’ll look forward to it being on the “Best Seller List”.


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