On Writing

50x50 LT When I was still in college I dreamed about becoming a writer, but the thought had no real meaning to me. Writers were fantastical creatures of plots and endlessly lit cigarettes. During that time, I worked as a part-time receptionist in a medical malpractice law firm, and I found one of the clients particularly inspirational. Albert Maltz was named among the Hollywood Ten (blacklisted by the studios when they buckled under the political pressure of McCarthyism,) and an Academy Award winner for his screenplay, The Robe.

After several encounters with the gentle elderly man, I gathered the courage to tell him of my dreams and ask if he had any advice for overcoming my fears of a blank page.

His answer was simple and direct. “Write for the trashcan.”

It has taken me many years to fully comprehend the scope of his meaning.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a blank page or writer’s block. “Just write,” he said. “You’ll throw the first page away, and the second. By the time you’ve finished four or five pages you’ll have something worth keeping.”

He was right.

Every time I’m stuck I remind myself to write for the trashcan.

Thank you, Mr. Maltz!