ernest hemingway, on writing

Ernest Hemingway, on writing:

“What difference does it make if you live in a picturesque little outhouse surrounded by 300 feeble minded goats and your faithful dog? The question is: Can you write?”

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

“All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.”

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

“For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.”

“When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day next you hit it again.”

Ernest Hemingway fishing off Key West, circa 1928. Image here.

“i believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try and make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful. Then you write for who you love whether they can read or write or not and whether they are alive or dead.”

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

“In order to write about life first you must live it.”

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

“Good writing is good conversation, only more so.”

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”

“If a writer stops observing he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.”

Ernest Hemingway works on “For Whom the Bell Tolls” at ¬†Sun Valley Resort in 1939. Image¬† here.

“It’s harder to write in the third person but the advantage is you move around better.”

“Remember to get the weather in your damn book–weather is very important.”

“…it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply. ”

“The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life and one is as good as the other.”

“It’s this way, see–when a writer first starts out, he gets a big kick from the stuff he does, and the reader doesn’t get any; then, after a while, the writer gets a little kick and the reader gets a little kick; and finally, if the writer’s any good, he doesn’t get any kick at all and the reader gets everything.”

“Since I had started to break down all my writing and get rid of all facility and try to make instead of describe, writing had been wonderful to do.”

“I sometimes think my style is suggestive rather than direct. The reader must often use his imagination or lose the most subtle part of my thought.”

Hemingway and Castro. Image here.

“Show the readers everything, tell them nothing.”

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

“Write drunk; edit sober.”

“Work every day. No matter what has happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail.”

“Any man’s life, told truly, is a novel…”

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.”

“A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”

Ernest Hemingway quotes here.

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2 Comments on ernest hemingway, on writing

  1. Bea
    26 May 2011 at 5:50 am (2585 days ago)

    These are very helpful, inspirational words. I wish I had brains like Hemingway. XD

  2. JennyO
    2 June 2011 at 10:36 pm (2578 days ago)

    I wish I had brains. Any kind of brains. XD

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