Wednesday, March 13

Hemingway Punches Writer's Block in the Face

In my Creative Writing unit, we've spent a fair amount of time looking at Hemingway, in particular his short stories and his approach to writing.  It's evident that the world sees Hemingway as a blunt, dust-dry man of few words and firm opinions.  
For all intents and  purposes, he's the Chuck Norris of the literary world.  
Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)

Whenever I've tried, I've found it nearly impossible to enjoy his writing, even though, upon reflection, I can appreciate the deliberate method behind his distinctive style.  I've always thought that it was because I loved words and metaphors, and he was much to minimalistic.  But, as with everything, upon taking a closer look, I found that this wasn't the case at all.  Even though he is blunt and dry and ridiculously plain, (I'm using his short story, Hills Like White Elephants, as my example and reference), he is also in love with words and metaphor.  The difference is, though, that he prefers to use as few words and possible, and then exploit these for their ability to create powerful meaning.  

I was reading through an online article listing seven writing tips from Ernest Hemingway,  and I particularly liked the perfect Hemingway-flavoured grit that went into this one.  It's his own personal way of busting through writer's block:
Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.
It's almost hilarious what huge ideals and grandeur he refers to, but there's definitely something romantic and thrilling about his savage honesty and perspectives.  I very much look forward to growing to appreciate his work in time.  
Oh, and if you'd like to read the other six tips, follow the link to the Openculture page.  


  1. I love Reading Hemingway. To me he is the no-nonsense American

  2. Hemingway is so confident in his abilities and has immense trust in his style. He does what he wants to do, knowing that, even without vast, flowery descriptions, he can tell a powerful story. He's really something, isn't he?


Please leave a comment to respond to my post or start a new conversation about whatever it is that you're passionate about.

If you don't have a Blogger or Google account, you can always leave an anonymous comment. Thankyou for taking the time!