21 January 2016

Writing tips

I found a great blog post about the writing advice from Ernest Hemingway. And that advice gave me new hope.
Hemingway said he wrote and re-wrote A Farewell to Arms 50 times. This made me relax because I do not even dare to show my first draft to anyone. I need to rewrite it several times before someone's else eyes touch those words. After reading that a man who set new standards for writing with the simplicity of his sentences was doing the same, I smiled.
All is not lost.1025px-Ernest_Hemingway_Writing_at_Campsite_in_Kenya_-_NARA_-_192655
One of the advice I will start applying right now is:
“The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is never writing 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.”
“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. That way, when you get through, your stuff is full of interesting places and when you write a novel you never get stuck and you make it interesting as you go along. 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. That way you make it one piece. And when you go over it, cut out everything you can. The main thing is to know what to leave out. The way you tell whether you’re going good is by what you can throw away. If you can throw away stuff that would make a high point of interest in somebody else’s story, you know you’re going good.”
And my favorite tip is:
“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. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit. 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. It’s the hardest work there is. I like to do and can do many things better than I can write, but when I don’t write I feel like shit. I’ve got the talent and I feel that I’m wasting it.”

Hard work, I do understand. Practice, and practice, and practice is my motto.

Hemingway recommended the aspiring writer to read the following books:
1 The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane
2 The Open Boat by Stephen Crane
3 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
4 Dubliners by James Joyce
5 The Red and the Black by Stendhal
6 Of Human Bondage) by W. Somerset Maugham
7 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
8 War and Peace (by Leo Tolstoy
9 Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
10 Hail and Farewell by George Moore
11 The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
12 The Oxford Book of English Verse
13 The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
14 Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
15 Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson
16 The American by Henry James
I would add to this list Hemingway’s work as well.
I read his books in translation to my native language. Now, I’m looking forward to reading it in English, and see for myself that magnificent writing style of his.
Anyway, you can see the original article here.

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