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Writing Advice from Ernest Hemingway
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
A man's man; a writer's muse; much can be said of Ernest Hemingway, also known as, Papa, and Hem, to his close friends. Hemingway lived life by storm, and chose to end his life the same way. He was an accomplished fisherman, hunter, traveler, lover, partier, and above all, writer. His collection of great novels: The Sun Also Rises; For Whom the Bell Tolls; A Farewell to Arms; The Old Man and the Sea; and many others, will live forever on bookshelves and schools around the world. Having inspired many, Ernest Hemingway was happy to give others advice on writing. Listed below are some of my favorites, listed in no order of importance. Enjoy!
Write in the morning
"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"
Mornings are the easiest to establish a routine, and allow for the fewest of distractions. By setting a specific time each morning, you're creating a habit. Mornings are the best time for your creative "juices" to flow. It's been said that no matter how late Hemingway stayed out partying the night before, he was always up at 7:00 ready to write.
Write standing up
"Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up."
Hemingway believed standing while writing not only made it more difficult for him to fall asleep, but helped the circulation of blood flow. This maintained alertness and increased his awareness of thoughts.
Keep track of daily progress
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
Counting words before completion is too soon to judge ones merits, Although he was more concerned with the quality of each sentence, Hemingway kept a board in plain sight which he called, "So as not to kid myself". The numbers on the board ranged from 500 to over 1,200 words on any given day. Hemingway threw out more than he kept.
Write short sentences and use vigorous English
"My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way."
Rather than use flowery adjectives, Hemingway preferred brief prose. His genius descriptions were written to give the reader a true feeling of the experience, When asked to write a six-word story, he wrote, "For sale: baby shoes, never used."
Hemingway's written words show passion, something he never took for granted. Strain your muscle fingers to write forceful and muscular words. As he said, "Prose is arcitecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over."
Know how to set aside your work
"The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck."
Stated by Hemingway as being his most valuable piece of advice is, stop your writing session in the middle of what you know comes next. This prevents the next session from staring at a blank page. If it means not finishing a chapter, that's okay, at least you can put your fingers to the keys the next day, and begin writing. Take a break and be true to life.
Read what you've written every day
"Courage is grace under fire."
Before beginning each day writing, go through what you've already written and make corrections. When starting from the beginning gets to take too much time to read, begin two or three chapters back. Read you novel each week from the beginning doing the same to where you ended. "That's how you make it all one piece."
Don't describe an emotion - make it
"Close observation of life is critical to good writing."
Pay attention to the emotions that overcome you by events and experiences. A good writer can give the reader those same emotions.
"Write the truest sentence that you know."
When beginning a new story, Ernest Hemingway would remind himself, 'You have always written, and you will write again.' Spend time to think about the one truest sentence that you know. Make it remarkable, rememberable, and unforgiving. Every story begins with the first sentence. Let it be your best.
I hope the words of Hemingway inspire you as they have me. Thank you, and happy writing!
- Ernest Hemingway Quotes- BrainyQuote
Enjoy the best Ernest Hemingway Quotes at BrainyQuote. Quotations by Ernest Hemingway, American Novelist, Born July 21, 1899. Share with your friends.