Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hemingway Advises Like No Other Writer Can

There is a fascinating look at Ernest Hemingway's literary advice to the 22-year old Arnold Samuelson from the latter's stay with the literary legend back in 1934.

As you would expect, Hemingway sets down practical, memorable advice when it comes to writing novels, and also what a reader should have read or be reading to educate himself properly. The list of books a writer at that moment in time should have read is enough to peak anybody's interest, but here are some other prize snippets from the book picked so gracefully by Maria Popova:
The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is never write too much at a time… Never pump yourself dry. Leave a little for the next day. The main thing is to know when to stop. Don’t wait till you’ve written yourself out. When you’re still going good and you come to an interesting place and you know what’s going to happen next, that’s the time to stop. Then leave it alone and don’t think about it; let your subconscious mind do the work.
I've employed this practice with my own writing since I was a child--leaving off at a high point so as to easily jump in the next day. If I've ever failed to do so, I found I'd be facing mental struggle with where to pick up again with the story, and a wasteful morning of wrestling ideas and submitting them onto the page would ensue.

And my other favorite Hemingway advice for today is:
When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself. That’s the true test of writing. When you can do that, the reader gets the kick and you don’t get any. You just get hard work and the better you write the harder it is because every story has to be better than the last one. 
See the rest of Popova's article, "Hemingway's Advice on Writing...

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