June 3, 2017 Eric Blauer

Ernest Hemingway on Writing

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

2.“Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.”

3. “Newspaper work will not harm a young writer and could help him if he gets out of it in time.”

4. “Some writers are born only to help another writer write one sentence.”

5. “I am trying to make, before I get through, a picture of the whole world, or as much of it as I have seen. Boiling it down always, rather than spreading it out thin.”

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

7. “Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it, don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist, but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.”

8. “Dostoevsky was made by being sent to Siberia. Writers are forged in injustice as a sword is forged.”

9. “A dull subject I should say would be impotence.”

10. “Look how it is at the start—all juice and kick to the writer and can’t convey anything to the reader–you use up the juice and the kick goes but you learn how to do it and the stuff when you are no longer young is better than the young stuff.”

11. “Find what gave you the emotion; what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling that you had. That’s a five fingered exercise.”

12. “My temptation is always to write too much.”

13. “The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.”

14. You see I’m trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across, not to just depict life, or criticize it, but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me you actually experience the thing. You can’t do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful. Because if it is all beautiful you can’t believe in it. Things aren’t that way. It is only by showing both sides–3 dimensions and if possible 4 then you can write the way I want to.

15.“Actually if a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from the beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it.”

16. “I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the spring that fed it.”

17. “…never let anyone read it on acct. It takes off whatever butterflies have on their wings and the arrangement of hawk’s feathers if you show it or talk about it.” -Ernest Hemingway on why an author shouldn’t let others read one’s rough drafts.

18. “If you write with a pencil you get three different sights at it to see if the reader is getting what you want him to. First when you read it over; then when it is typed you get another chance to improve it, and again in the proof. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it. That is .333 which is a damned good average for a hitter. It also keeps it fluid longer so that you can better it easier.”

19. “Have never known a summer to go so fast. When I am working as hard as have been since the first of the week in April the days all just blur together…Wake about seven thirty, have breakfast and am working by nine and usually work straight through until 2pm. After that it’s like living in a vacuum until working time next day.”

20. “I have to ease off on making love when writing hard as the two things are run by the same motor.”

21. “Since I found that 400-600 (words per page) well done was a pace I could hold much better was always happy with that number. But if I only had 320 I felt good.”

22. “My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing.”

23. “Don’t you drink? I notice you speak slightingly of the bottle. I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky?”

24. “Writing, at it’s best, is a lonely life.”

25. “There are defensible interpretations for any violations of ethics or good taste.”

26. “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration and the Baroque is over.”

27. “All the stories I know from the fishing village I leave out. But the knowledge is what makes the underwater part of the iceberg.”


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About the Author

Eric Blauer I am barbarian, sage, saint, bard, husband and father. Bow my knee to only One, serve all, ruled by none.

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