Categories
Books Quotes

‘The test of a book is how much good stuff you can throw away’

“The test of a book is how much good stuff you can throw away,” he said. “When I’m writing it, I’m just as proud as a goddam lion. I use the oldest words in the English language. People think I’m an ignorant bastard who doesn’t know the ten-dollar words. I know the ten-dollar words. There are older and better words which if you arrange them in the proper combination you make.”

Lillian Ross, Portrait of Hemingway
Categories
Quotes Writing

Writing with a pencil

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.

Ernest Hemingway

(via The Cramped)

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work Writing

Write just one sentence

Stuck, in limbo, at the fright of starting. It is the activation energy that gets us over the hurdle of inertia. For Ernest Hemingway, writing one sentence motivated him to write more and more.

Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. So, finally I would write one true sentence and go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

However, his other writing trick took advantage of intertia. By pausing what and putting aside his next idea, he could guarantee he had something to play with the next day.

I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.

Action begets action but the breaks also serve an important purpose. As Albert Camus wrote: “Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.”

Read Inertia

Categories
Arts Books Creativity Writing

There is no perfect idea

Ernest Hemingway’s writing habits always ensured he sustained momentum. In Moveable Feast, he writes: 'I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.' #writingtips #writing

There is no such thing as the perfect idea. As Rebecca Solnit writes in Hope in the Dark, ‘Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible.’ Or as novelist Iris Murdoch instructs, “Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea.”

Our creative work calls for more action than reaction. Sure, there are benefits to structured procrastination but at some point, we have to sit our ass down (or stand up, whatever your preference is) and do the work.

How do you know when to stop working?

Ernest Hemingway’s writing habits always ensured he sustained momentum. In Moveable Feast, he writes: ‘I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.’

I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s approach for writer’s block was to write badly and then hold on to the bit with the most truth.

Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. So, finally I would write one true sentence and go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.”

The discomforting tensions around perfection are means to go, a green light to turn a work into something fresh.

Read more about conquering creative struggles:

Categories
Creativity Quotes Writing

Hemingway on sh*tty first drafts

Copy of Intelligence is really a kind of taste- taste in ideas.”- Susan SontagFailure is notan option

“The first draft of anything is sh*t.” — Ernest Hemingway

Everything is practice. It’s not about what more to include; it’s about what to omit.

Categories
Psychology Quotes

Hemingway: ‘Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.’

hemingway kicking beer can
via Reddit

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

— Ernest Hemingway Hemingway kicking a beer can around 1959.