A Newsletter Dedicated to Helping Businesspeople Write Smarter and Faster in Plain Language
Let Hemingway Teach You How to Write (Part 2 of 2)
The article, “Ernest Hemingway’s Best Tips on Writing,” includes nine writing tips from the famous author. The September issue of Writing Tips listed the first four, and this issue lists the remaining five. Though Hemingway was a novelist, these tips are still very useful for businesspeople, whether you’re writing a book on management strategies or just trying to improve your daily business correspondence.
5. Writer’s block.
Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, 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.
6. Knowing what to leave out.
If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.
7. Daily word count.
I loved to write very much and was never happier than doing it… And days of 1,200 or 2,700 [words] were something that made you happier than you could believe. Since I found that 400 to 600 well done [words] was a pace I could hold much better, I was always happy with that number. But if I only had 320 I felt good.
I think you should learn about writing from everybody who has ever written that has anything to teach you. Ordinarily I never read anything before I write in the morning to try and bite on the old nail with no help, no influence and no one giving you a wonderful example or sitting looking over your shoulder.
When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written… afterwards, when you were empty, it was necessary to read in order not to think or worry about your work until you could do it again. I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.
9. On fame.
I think we should never be too pessimistic about what we know we have done well because we should have some reward and the only reward is that which is within ourselves… Publicity, admiration, adulation, or simply being fashionable are all worthless…
You must be prepared to work always without applause. When you are excited about something is when the first draft is done. But no one can see it until you have gone over it again and again until you have communicated the emotion, the sights and the sounds to the reader.
- New York City throws the biggest Halloween parade in the U.S., drawing more than 2 million spectators.
- Americans spend about $86 on Halloween every year, for candy, decorations, costumes and cards.
- Illinois produces five times more pumpkins than any other state, growing more than 500 million pounds of pumpkins each year.
- Halloween—a tradition that goes back more than 2,000 years—started as a pre-Christian Celtic festival called Samhain, which means “summer’s end.”
- Jack-‘o-lanterns originated in Ireland where they were carved out of potatoes, turnips and beets, until the holiday came to America and people used pumpkins instead.
- Trick-or-treating has existed since medieval times when young people dressed up in costumes and asked for food or money in exchange for songs, poems or other “tricks.”
- Which candy is the top-selling treat on Halloween: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, candy corn, Skittles, Snickers?
(Fun Facts Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
Word of the Month
inordinate | in-OR-dun-ut | adjective
• exceeding reasonable limits; immoderate
“Because Keith spent an inordinate amount of time making sure interns did not send personal texts during work hours, he was known as goody two-shoes.”
Wacky & Wise Websites
Click here read about nine innocent-sounding words—from gymnasium to orchid—with lewd or crude origins.
Click here to find out why humans are afraid of bugs.
American Express, Amgen, Cisco Systems, Department of the Navy, Fluor Corporation, General Electric, Motorola, The New York Public Library, Procter & Gamble, SEAL Team Six, State of Utah, Supreme Court of Virginia, United Way, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Food & Drug Administration
Writing Tips & More
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SATisfy Your Curiosity
SAT Exam practice question: Select the pair that best expresses a relationship similar to that expressed in the original pair.
PURSE : LIPS
- bend : knee
- knit : brow
- grimace : eye
- speak : tongue
- stretch : neck
(SAT Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
A goody two-shoes is a prudish or morally upright person. It’s an odd term to the modern ear. What do shoes have to do with being good? The term comes from the title character in the 1765 novel, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes: “The Pleasure she took in her two Shoes…by that Means obtained the Name of Goody Two-Shoes.”
The word goody in the name has nothing to do with being good. Rather, it’s an abbreviated form of goodwife, the mistress of a house, which is the equivalent of the modern Mrs. Later readers, unfamiliar with that form of address, took the word goody to mean pious or virtuous.
Answer: To purse one’s lips is to contract them; to knit one’s brow is to contract it.
Fun Facts Answer
Skittles outranked M&M’s, Snickers, and Reese’s Cups, according to 11 years of sales data from CandyStore.com. And even though candy corn made the top 10, the tricolored treats also ranked among the worst Halloween candies, according to a CandyStore.com survey.