Friday, May 2, 2014

Excellent Writing Advice from Ernest Hemingway

 The writer of "A Farewell to Arms" and "The Old Man and the Sea," was a foul-mouthed, charmingly genuine man, with a love of the written word and grain alcohol. Never short on opinions, he contributed some of the best advice on writing I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the incorrigible Ernest Hemingway.
“The first draft of everything is shit.”

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.

“Write drunk, edit sober.”

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

“In order to write about life first you must live it.”

“Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.”

“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”


  1. Great post Amy! I think my favorite one is "Prose is architecture, not interior decoration." Thanks so much for this! Have a lovely weekend!

    1. Thanks for commenting! I agree; I love how simply he makes his opinion known!

  2. Some really great posts there, once again reinforcing why Papa is one of my all-time favorite classic authors.

  3. Great post and great advice for writers!

  4. Great post Amy! Love Hemingway!

  5. What a great post. I go to Key West once or twice a year to honor him. He has great advice and that type of advice has worked for so many great artists (James Douglas Morrison comes to mind). Thanks!