Hemingway says to stop when you know what’s going to happen next. I agree with that to an extent. Knowing where you’re going is a great tool to have when you’re heading toward a destination and are required to stay fairly squared to the path. My issue is when the writing becomes too tick-boxy. If you’re flowing, continue to flow for as long as possible. It’s not always easy to do as previously mentioned, but whilst in a perfect writing scenario, I prefer to dry up as I never know when I’ll be able to be back at it. And I think this is one difference between myself and Hemingway. One of many, I should add. This difference to which I draw my comparison is the frequency of putting pen to paper. Such a cliché and yet so meticulous in its literal description.
Ernest Hemingway used to be a journalist before turning to larger publications; short stories, novels and memoirs. He made a living out of being a writer and an author. He had the time to do what he needed to do. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t for one minute believe it was easy. There was the horses, the absinthe, the rent and mortgages, the food, the travel, the experiences and the research. All of this, as well as the weddings and divorces, cost money. But time was of a different nature back then. Economic climate, society and culture, the aftermath of wars. These days it’s all rush, rush, rush. Having to be bigger and better than the last or attempting to be the new bigger and better thing. There are more bills to pay, more things to do and somehow, we all suffer with not having enough time to fit everything in without a consequence of sorts. For Hemingway, he had the necessity to create a writing habit.
His methodology has been studied and reported upon. He has had quotes from his books, letters, articles and rare interviews used as published research by scholars and schoolkids alike, me included.
Hemingway has advice on things such as how to overcome writer’s block and even to ensure that you never get it. He also has advice on maintaining continuity in your story, which tools to use and how best to actually write. He was a firm believer of using the little habits that were found in his own tips and tricks. “Write one true sentence” is one of his more famous pieces of overused advice. He recalls this in a section of his book, A Moveable Feast, his Parisian memoir written more than thirty years after spending time there. But it is the bigger part of the paragraph which props everything into context. He mentions of the time that he couldn’t get a story started and would squeeze the peel of oranges into the fire or look out over the rooftops of Paris. He’d reflect over the moments that he had been stuck before. He always reassured himself and the writing commenced with this one true sentence that everyone refers to.
But again, this is because he is trying to maintain his habit. Once things turn into a habit, for me, I lose interest. It becomes too restrictive, too regimented. I force myself to do it whether it’s natural or nurtured. Like my running. I was thoroughly enjoying it until I found myself training for the London marathon. Then I had to build a structure to ensure my training was to stay on track. I created spreadsheets, running schedules, fitness routines and diet plans. These lasted for possibly a very strict three weeks before I got bored and disregarded them completely. And yet, when I now run, I decide when, where and how far to go. It’s no longer a habit, it’s back to being a hobby. And that’s when the enjoyment returned.
I enjoy writing again.