Posted in Articles, Writing Tip of the Day

Analyze that Quote: Ernest Hemingway

Everyone has an opinion on how to write, and those of us who do so tend to place value on our predecessors who have found success. However, one thing I’ve found to be true is that people and their processes are different. So today, we’ll analyze Ernest Hemingway.

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
– Ernest Hemingway

Most folks have read at least one Hemingway book in their school career. Mine was The Sun Also Rises. So, part of what comes into play when analyzing the writer’s advice is also their background.

This particular quote however, I find to be sound advice, from a practical standpoint. It can be taken in several manners. First and foremost, if your learning is showing in your writing, then obviously it hasn’t been polished enough. Hence the quote cements the importance of honing your craft before pursuing publication, as well as the importance of a damn good editor.

The other manner this quote can be taken has to do with psychology of how people work, and would also fit Hemingway’s cut and dry, practical perspective on things. People aren’t ‘wow’ed by your hardship until you’ve found success. Not to say that you won’t have your support–some are lucky enough to have devout friends and family by their side while they scrape their way up to a reputation. However, the average passersby, the normal reader doesn’t care about that.

In fact, the general populace doesn’t go digging through the filth to find a gem, so in essence, Hemingway’s quote can have quite a different message.

“Let them think you were born that way.”

What better way to create a name, a reputation, a legend, than to play on the public’s ignorance of craftsmanship and present a solid front? You wouldn’t go to a job interview and talk about all your mistakes, would you?

Everyone makes them, and everyone has hurdles, but I think the true gem in this quote is the underlying subtlety of the drive for success. Instead of bemoaning your hardships, you keep working until you present that polished, published front, of the writer you’ve worked so hard to become.


I split my time writing and working my day job as a massage therapist. If it’s a creative pursuit though, chances are I’ve dabbled in it. Hell, I’ve played around with soapmaking, beer brewing, cupcake baking, tea blending and everything else under the midday sun. At the end of the day, my constant is always reading, writing and editing. I’m an Aries-Taurus cusp–which to any astrology buffs should tell you plenty. I hit the East Coast convention circuit pretty hard and chances are, you can find me vending for Solstice Brews while simultaneously promoting my books.

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