Hemingway on writing with confidence

I stumbled across an amazing quote from Ernest Hemingway the other day.  It was in one of those ‘writers’ quotes about writing’ sites, full of interesting stuff right enough, but this was a real gem.  Boiling the art of writing right down to its core.

And this is what he said:

“All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.”

It made me wonder how many of us ever do that.  Just write one true sentence.

It made me wonder what mine would be.

It made me wonder what your’s would be.  If that’s all you’ve got, if that’s all you need write.  Just one  sentence.  What would it be?

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Joanna Paterson

Journal and writing coach, teaching ways to notice and capture the wonder of the everyday, through writing, poetry, and photography.

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4 Responses to “Hemingway on writing with confidence”

  1. On April 12, 2007 at 10:20 am Emma Bird responded with... #

    Hi Joanna

    Congrats on the new blog. I’ll refer the want-to-be writer clients of mine to this blog for tips on how to turn their lives in Italy into a book.


  2. On April 13, 2007 at 9:37 am Joanna Young responded with... #

    Thanks very much Emma. I know writing a book is a dream, an ambition for many people. Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to come to Italy and share ideas with you and your clients over a cappuccino or two - all in the interests of research of course!

  3. On October 30, 2008 at 1:23 pm ivy responded with... #

    Hello, I’am a stranger for u.I’m interested in Hemingway’s elliptical writing style.And I want to what about your opinion on his writing style.

  4. On October 30, 2008 at 10:32 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi ivy, and thanks for your question. You might be interested in this longer post on writing advice from Hemingway


    There’s an interesting follow up conversation (in the comments at the end of the article), including some input from the person who compiled Hemingway’s advice on writing. This point has stayed with me since - the appeal to capture the emotion… without using a lot of words. It’s about finding the essence of a situation (place, relationship) and also the essential words.

    !the most important advice he gave is the stuff about “finding the thing that gave you the emotion”. (In a scene, or an event). That’s important and concrete advice for any writer– because doing that, you transfer the feeling to the reader.”

    Hope that’s useful

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