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Sheldon: Famous writers from A to Z on writing

What does a writer do with an empty page? Certainly, we aim to fill it with worthy words. But the first pen scratches on the page, the first taps of the keys, or the first letters on the screen can be tricky. Even the most expert wordsmiths may sit and stare and ponder how to begin filling that void.

Take American screenwriter, novelist, and filmmaker Sidney Sheldon (1917-2007), for example.

He also created such well-known television programs as Hart to Hart, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Patty Duke Show. Sheldon won an Academy Award for his screenplay for the 1947 movie The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.

Despite these illustrious achievements, Sidney Sheldon has been credited with this quotation on the daunting prospect of beginning a new written work:

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”

This Sheldon statement likely alludes to the familiar biblical Creation account in the first chapter of Genesis:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Genesis 1:1-3, KJV)

(The Genesis account continues with the creation of night and day, Heaven and earth, plants, animals, mankind, and more.)

Writers who have sat down to write and gazed at their blank pages can surely imagine such a scene, both “without form” and “void.” Creativity can be a challenging thing for humans, even if it comes naturally to the divine Creator.

The late and long-time best-selling Sidney Sheldon also offered motivation for fellow writers, perhaps especially those just beginning to explore their craft:

“Don't give up. There are too many nay-sayers out there who will try to discourage you. Don't listen to them. The only one who can make you give up is yourself.”

A third Sidney Sheldon quotation sets the bar high for fiction writers. But what a goal!

“When people tell me I've kept them up all night, I feel like I've succeeded.”

 Maybe that is one true measure of a good story, well told. What writer wouldn’t leap for joy to have created such a fascinating page-turner that it held readers’ attention into the wee hours of the night?

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