10 Interesting Quotes on Writing by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is one of the most well-known writers of the 20th century. In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms established Hemingway as one of the greatest literary writers of his time.

He started his career as a journalist and worked as an ambulance driver during World War I. He also covered the Spanish Civil War and World War II. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea. He died in 1961.  

Here are 10 interesting quotes from the book “Ernest Hemingway On Writing.”



Writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I have ever done–so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well.
— Page 15


I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. But it is a hell of a disease to be born with. I like to do it. Which is even worse. That makes it from a disease into a vice. Then I want to do it better than anybody has ever done it which makes it into an obsession. An obsession is terrible. Hope you haven’t gotten any. That’s the only one I’ve got left.
— Page 16


Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it–don’t cheat with it.
— Page 19


You see I’m trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across–not to just depict life–or to criticize it–but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me you actually experience the thing. You can’t do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful. Because if it is all beautiful you can’t believe in it. Things aren’t that way. It is only by showing both sides...
— Page 33


You just have to go on when it is worst and most helpless–there is only one thing to do with a novel and that is go straight on through to the end of the damn thing.
— Page 45


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.
— Page 47


The more I’m let alone and not worried the better I can function.
— Page 56


‘Tell me first what are the things, the actual, concrete things that harm a writer?’ ‘Politics, women, drink, money, ambition. And the lack of politics, women, drink, money and ambition.’
— Page 113


For Christ sake write and don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece not what. I write one page of masterpieces to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.
— Page 134


All the critics who could not make their reputations by discovering you are hoping to make them by predicting hopefully your approaching impotence, failure and general drying up of natural juices.
— Page 139


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