Learning from Ernest Hemingway.

Well, this one was interesting. The first thing written in my bloggy notebook under the title “Learning from Ernest Hemingway” is “Ew. Can’t stand Hemingway.”

Which is true. I just never have been able to stomach his writing. But actually, upon reading his long, run-on-sentence-filled quote, I discovered something: I may not like his writing, but he gives some darned good advice.

Since, as before mentioned, his quote is hecka long winded, I’m going to break it down and discuss it one paragraph at a time.

When I am working on a book or a 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.

I guess I have to get used to getting up early. *elaborate sigh*

However, NaNoWriMo is coming up fast, and I’m stoked, so that should help.

Also, the idea of stopping when you know what is going to happen next is sheer brilliance. I tend to stop when I get stuck on something, which always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth and makes me reluctant to pick up the work the next day. How much more sense does it make to stop when you’re excited?

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 when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that.

Wow. Props to him on still having juice left after writing for six hours. I can’t imagine. But that’s where the lesson on discipline and building up stamina I learned from Haruki Murakami comes in. I’m applying new learning to old, I like where this is heading…

When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

Cue the eye-roll. Really, Hemmy, can we not get through one interview without bringing up sex? But I must say, this is a rather eloquent paragraph. And it does beautifully portray the excitement and passion of putting words down on paper, so I’ll let it stand.

And now, on a thoroughly frivolous note, I present to you the one place I actually enjoy Hemingway: Woody Allen’s glorious Midnight In Paris.

Har. I love how Owen Wilson falls apart at the end of the conversation, stammering and flailing his arms around in the air. This movie though.

“If you’re a writer, (slams fist on table and makes the silverware rattle) declare yourself the best writer, but you’re not as long as I’m around unless you want to put the gloves on and settle it.”


This post is the third in a series based on this article by James Clear, featuring quotes and reflections on the routines of twelve famous authors.

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