Hemingway on writing and revision

I’ve been reading Brain Pickings a couple of years now. It is full of wonderful information about authors, artists, and the whole world of creativity. This past week’s issue was particularly interesting to me since I’m rigorously working on revising my novel.

Arnold Samuelson, who spent a year with Ernest Hemingway in 1934, left a book called, With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba – discovered by his daughter in 1981 after Samuelson’s death. The book contains the very valuable writing advice that Hemingway related to him.

With Hemingway

I’ll share some of Hemingway’s writing advice here, but please go to Brain Pickings for the real meat – or read the book:

“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… 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.

“The next morning, when you’ve had a good sleep and you’re feeling fresh, rewrite what you wrote the day before.

“When you come to the interesting place and you know what is going to happen next, go on from there and stop at another high point of interest.

“Every day go back to the beginning and rewrite the whole thing and when it gets too long, read at least two or three chapters before you start to write and at least once a week go back to the start.

“And when you go over it, cut out everything you can.

“Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it.

“I rewrote A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times.

“… 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.”

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A big thank you to Brain Pickings for this insightful article. Please take a look, get on the mailing list, and donate a little to help keep this worthwhile resource going.

Really, can you imagine rewriting a book 50 times!!

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