Ernest Hemingway was a literary talent, but even he found writing a difficult endeavor. Thus, Hemingway adhered to a writing routine.
Writing routines are not one-size-fits-all. Following his writing schedule to a T will not transform you into Hemingway because what worked for his mind will not work for yours. However, learning about his routine may inspire you to experiment with how to fit writing into your life.
1. Prioritize consistency.
Your mindset is everything. To Hemingway, writing was something you had to practice just like you would a sport. Especially while you’re still forming a writing habit, set aside a small chunk of time to write and focus on whether you spent the whole time writing rather than the quantity of words you put out.
Showing up is half the battle, and it willget easier.
2. Know thyself.
Hemingway woke early to write in the mornings because “there is no one to disturb you.” Of course, if inspiration struck, he would stay longer at his desk.
Do you tend to be more productive at night? During the day? After a nap? If you’re not sure, spend a week experimenting with different writing times and record how you felt about your writing process.
Keep an eye out for patterns.
3. Separate your writing life.
Hemingway’s advice to writers is to “always stop when you know what is going to happen next.” When you’ve concluded a writing session, try not to let thoughts about your work consume you.
Your subconscious mind is the source of creativity and works in the background even as you tackle other tasks. When Hemingway felt truly stumped, he would answer letters as a welcome break. Relax and let your subconscious ideate for you.
4. Curate your writing environment.
According to Daily Ritualsby Mason Currey, Hemingway “wrote standing up, facing a chest-high bookshelf with a typewriter on the top.” He wrote his first drafts in pencil and tracked his daily word output on a chart.
Make sure your writing environment is separate from, for example, your game room. Keeping a dedicated writing space helps you get into the writing headspace more quickly. Make yourself comfortable, but not too comfortable to write.
5. Have faith in yourself.
Recognizing that writer’s block is merely a mental block diminishes its power over you. It’s not some inexplicable, unbeatable force—ultimately, you have the ability to push through.
When Hemingway felt the onset of writer’s block, he “would stand and look out over the roof 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.’”
6. Know when to stop writing.
Writers rarely talk about this step, as most of us struggle enough with just getting started. But Hemingway, who has certainly thought through every step of his writing process, has some words of wisdom:
“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck.”
The next time you poise your fingers above the keys, think about your writing process from Hemingway’s perspective. Let us know what you think!
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