Here are some of the most helpful writing tips from Ernest Hemingway that lived in the 20th century. Hemingway got a Pulitzer Prize for his work The Old Man and the Sea. So, it would be a pity not to read some of his best tips for all writers.
“If we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.” – Ernest Hemingway
The Purpose of Writing
Ernest Hemingway highly suggested that all writers should find their main inspiration for writing in their own lives. He also recommends that the readers should identify with something that has happened in your story. So, keep your eyes open, rethink of every fun or sad situation that has happened to you and you might find your inspiration there.
The Act of Writing
Ernest Hemingway believes that when a writer creates the art, he/she should do the best to make his/her work as best as it can be. He added that a writer writes only for two people, for himself/herself and for the one he/she loves. That is why it is of extreme importance to try to do your best. Writing should be difficult, but if you are a true writer you should enjoy every moment of it.
What to Do When You Have a Writer’s Block
First and most important thing is that you shouldn’t panic or get discouraged. All writers have had a writer’s block, so you shouldn’t feel hopeless. The most important thing is that you must keep trying. Just remember, if you have written before, you will write again. When it comes to the writing Tips from Ernest Hemingway about writer’s block, he has one solid advice. That is to write just one true sentence. So, sit down, close your eyes and think of the truest sentence. When you come up with it, write it down and take it from there. You’ll see that inspiration will come flooding down.
Know What to Omit
The reader mustn’t be overwhelmed by unimportant details, that will only bore him/her. And if the writer is good enough, the reader will instantly know about the meaning of a certain thing, even if that hasn’t been mentioned previously in the story. As an example, he mentioned the Gettysburg address.
The Importance of Reading
Hemingway always stressed the importance of reading. He believed that all writers can learn something important from people that have written something before. So, find a book that someone has recommended to you and read it. and it doesn’t have to be a book. Read stories, blog posts, anything that you can think of. You will become more experienced and you might even find your inspiration for your next book.
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If you want to be understood and have your ideas spread, then your language should be as effective as possible. This is not a recent problem at all, and as George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, this condition is curable. By following George Orwell’s 5 rules for effective writing, you can communicate your ideas as clearly as possible.
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figures of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
This might sound easy, but it is easier said than done. Phrases such as stand shoulder to shoulder with, an axe to grind, swan song feel comforting and melodic.
This is the reason why they must be avoided. Such common phrases have become so comfortable to the point that they cause no emotional response. Try to invent fresh and powerful images.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
Using long words doesn’t make you sound intelligent unless they are used skillfully. However, if used in the wrong situation, they’ll have quite the opposite effect.
When Faulkner criticized Hemingway for his use of limited word choice, he got the following reply:
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use”.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Any words that don’t add meaning to a passage dilute its power. In this case, less is always better.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
This is one of the mistakes that are made more often, probably because not many people know the difference between active and passive verbs. Here is an example that can clear the things a bit:
The girl was bitten by the snake. (passive) The snake bit the girl. (active).
The active sentence is always better because it’s shorter and more energetic.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
This is a tricky one because much of the writing published online is highly technical. You don’t want to continue with an unnecessary explanation, but always try to help your readers understand what your writing is about.
Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.
In the end, it’s all about using common sense when writing. It is easy to memorize these rules, but it is not that easy to apply them. Good writing matters probably more than you think.
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If you think that you cannot apply these rules to your writing, maybe you should consider doing something else. You always have the option of playing a game or bingo or two.