Hemingway on Writing

Guidance from Hemingway Helpful for Academic Writing

When to Stop for the Day

[Interviewer question: How much should you write a day?]

“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it.”

[Interviewer response: All right.]

“Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about whether you can go on the next day as to worry about whether you can go on the next day as to worry about having to go in inevitable action. You have to go on. So there is no sense to worry. You have to learn that to write a novel. The hard part about a novel is to finish it.”

[Interviewer question: How can you learn not to worry?]

“By not thinking about it. As soon as you start to think about it stop it. Think about something else. You have to learn that.”

From: By-Line: Ernest Hemingway, pp. 216-217

Finish What You Start

“Scott took LITERATURE so solemnly. He never understood that it was just writing as well as you can and finishing what you start.”

To Arthur Mizener, 1950

Selected Letters, p 695

Eliminate Frills

“No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.”

Death in the Afternoon, p. 191