What I learned from Hemingway about writing


Hands down my favourite combo of words from Hemingway is “animally happy”. It makes me grin like an idiot and giggle just to read it.

The 4 syllables, then 2. 

A puppy who has just had a bath. Zoom zoom zoom zoom! Stop! Flip!

Hemingway wrote a series of letters and wrote that you need these things to be a great writer:

*an unhappy childhood

*Not to write badly about the living, only the dead

*Read like a maniac in the afternoons (while drinking it seems)

* write in the morning 9-2, then drink but not after dinner (your head will be too gooey to write. I know this because I medicated a fever last night with a Bacon-stuffed Bloody Mary or 3).

*experience the weather and put it in your writing

*when writing your novel, edit by going back 2-3 chapters each day and then let it sit in a cupboard for 3 months. Then do only 1 rewrite as you read it in full, then submit it. Don’t let it drown you.

*Write to beat the best writer (except Shakespeare and Twain-they are the kings and cannot be beat). “Ok, Peter Mayley, it’s on like Donkey Kong someday!”

*Don’t write for money, don’t pander, keep politics and fashionable things out of your books unless you have experienced war and want to document it

*Only use slang in dialogue (in his time, he wrote “swell” in his letters but never in his prose). He knew it would go out of style and seem dorky and quaint (“Donkey Kong” in 90 years, imagine)


Hemingway was horrified that some of his chaps like F Scott Fitzgerald would write “fashionably” for magazines for money, so that they could do what they really loved-write novels

I suppose blogs and writing on phones would make him keel over

“The Old Girl and The Blog”…

Oh dear.

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