writing tip: hemingway style

the first six months of 2014 when i wrote my master’s thesis took my productivity game to the next level. i learned about and integrated many tools… mostly so that i could just finish the damn thing without driving myself crazy. the hemingway writing style was one of them.

part 1: the theory

ernest hemingway, an american author, believed that writing and editing are two fundamentally different processes. and because they’re so different, attempting to do both simultaneously meant doing neither well.

recently, i learned that john steinbeck, another american author, believed a similar thing:

“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.”

now, being the person i am, i took this idea to its logical extent. i tried (and failed, but still tried) to not ever go back to change words or fix errors when in writing mode. i just wrote and wrote and wrote until all the ideas were out on the page. only then would i go back, reread, and edit. it sounds a little counterintuitive, but it really worked.

part 2: the tools i use to writing hemingway style

i started off writing my thesis using a tool called draft. if i were using a standard word processor, i would have to use self-control to not go back and edit. hemingway mode on draft actually didn’t allow me to move the cursor unless it was to add a new letter to the document. and once you’ve got a clear goal defined, i’m all about removing the need to use self-control.

after my thesis, i stopped using draft, but now i use the hemingway app. i’ve written every post for this blog using it and i write other stuff in it as well.

the best part of it is that it tells me when i’m doing things that make my writing less clear.


anyway, tools aside, the takeaway is this: write first; edit later. it works.

well, at least for me.

note: another quick read on why writing first and edting later is a good call