Ernest Hemingway on his craft of writing

  • All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you’ve read one of them you will find that all that happened, happened to you and then it belongs to you forever: the happiness and unhappiness, good and evil, ecstasy and sorrow, the food, wine, beds, people and the weather. If you can give that to readers, then you’re a writer.
  • Any man’s life, told truly, is a novel. There is no rule on how it is to write.
  • There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.
  • A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it (you lose it if you talk about it).
  • All you have to do is write one true sentence.
  • My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.
  • All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.
  • Writing, at its best, is a lonely life…  for he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
  • You invent fiction, but what you invent it out of is what counts. True fiction must come from everything you’ve ever known, ever seen, ever felt, ever learned.
  • You put down the words in hot blood, like an argument, and correct them when your temper has cooled.
  • All our words from loose using have lost their edge.
  • When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel.
  • If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.
  • I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty, aside from knowing what you really felt, rather that what you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel, was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual things which produced the emotion that you experienced..
  • There are only two absolutes I know about writing: one is that if you make love while you are jamming on a novel, you are in danger of leaving the best parts of it in the bed; the other is that integrity in a writer is like virginity in a woman – once lost, it is never recovered.

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 Remarkable Quotes of Ernest Hemingway

  • There’s no one thing that is true. They’re all true.
  • What is moral is what you feel good after.
  • Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
  • Man is not made for defeat.
  • Nobody knows what’s in him until he tries to pull it out. If there’s nothing or very little, the shock can kill a man.
  • Courage is grace under pressure.
  • Never mistake motion for action.
  • Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.
  • All you have to do is write one true sentence.
  • The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector.

.

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Ernest Hemingway on effective writing

I couldn’t refer to authors’ rules on effective writing without mentioning my favourite writer and his perspective on what makes great writing. Ernest Hemingway wrote a lot about writing.

bgj_484

Here’s a few rules from the Master on what it takes to write well.

  1. Use short sentences and short first paragraphs.
  2. Use vigorous English – passion, focus and intention.
  3. Be positive, not negative.
  4. Spend time to edit and rewrite. (“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”)

 

Joanna Young of the blog The Confident Writing Coach catalogued 27 gems from Hemingway on the art of writing.

Here Is Young’s list of Hemingway’s advice to writers:

1 Start with the simplest things

2 Boil it down

3 Know what to leave out

4 Write the tip of the ice-berg, leave the rest under the water

5 Watch what happens today

6 Write what you see

7 Listen completely

8 Write when there is something you know, and not before

9 Look at words as if seeing them for the first time

10 Use the most conventional punctuation you can

11 Ditch the dictionary

12 Distrust adjectives

13 Learn to write a simple declarative sentence

14 Tell a story in six words

15 Write poetry into prose

16 Read everything so you know what you need to beat

17 Don’t try to beat Shakespeare

18 Accept that writing is something you can never do as well as it can be done

19 Go fishing in summer

20 Don’t drink when you’re writing

21 Finish what you start

22 Don’t worry. You’ve written before and you will write again

23 Forget posterity. Think only of writing truly

24 Write as well as you can with no eye on the market

25 Write clearly – and people will know if you are being true

26 Just write the truest sentence that you know

27 Remember that nobody really knows or understands the secret

 

Joanna Young’s blog entry is here:

http://confidentwriting.com/2008/02/27-secrets-to-w/

 

bgj_463

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

 

 

 

Musings of Ernest Hemingway

Readers of By George Journal will know one of our oft-quoted authors is Ernest Hemingway. Here are some favourite quotes.

  • Courage is grace under pressure.
  • Man is not made for defeat.
  • Never mistake motion for action.
  • Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
  • Nobody knows what’s in him until he tries to pull it out. If there’s nothing or very little, the shock can kill a man.
  • There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.
  • What is moral is what you feel good after.
  • A big lie is more plausible than truth.
  • When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.
  • In answer to the most frightening thing he ever encountered – “a blank sheet of paper.”
  • The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector.
  • A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it (you lose it if you talk about it).
  • All you have to do is write one true sentence.
  • Any man’s life, told truly, is a novel. There is no rule on how it is to write.
  • There’s no one thing that is true. They’re all true.
  • There is no friend as loyal as a book.
  • My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.
  • There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.
  • All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.
  • Writing, at its best, is a lonely life… for he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
  • That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward.
  • Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.
  • Survival, with honor, that outmoded and all-important word, is as difficult as ever and as all-important to a writer. Those who do not last are always more beloved since no one has to see them in their long, dull, unrelenting, no-quarter-given-and-no-quarter-received, fights that they make to do something as they believe it should be done before they die. Those who die or quit early and easy and with every good reason are preferred because they are understandable and human. Failure and well-disguised cowardice are more human and more beloved.
  • To me heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on nine different floors.
  • All things truly wicked start from an innocence.

(ed. – This list was previously posted in By George Journal in Summer 2009.)

 

Ernest Hemingway on Writing

In October of 1954, Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Although he did not attend the awards ceremony, the following remarks were read for him at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm on December 10, 1954.

 

Hemingway commented on his craft:

 

       Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

       For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

       How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.