Skip to main content

18 Quotes for Writers from Ernest Hemingway

Today marks the 115th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway's birth. In his lifetime, Papa had quite a lot to say about writing. Here are 18 of our favorite quotes, in no particular order.

Today marks the 115th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway's birth. In his lifetime, Papa had quite a lot to say about writing. Here are 18 of our favorite quotes, in no particular order.

(Remembering Harper Lee, Author of To Kill a Mockingbird, & Her Famous Writer's Digest Quote)

18 Quotes for Writers from Ernest Hemingway

1. I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

2. If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-ninth of it being above water.

3. For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

4.That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best - make it all up - but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.

5. Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.

6. My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.

7. When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.

8. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.

9. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

10. There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.

11. To F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can."

12. Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.

13. All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.

14. A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.

15. It's none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.

16. To an aspiring writer: “You shouldn’t write if you can’t write.”

17. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.

18. My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing.

What's your favorite writerly quote from Ernest Hemingway? Share it in the comments!

Read Like a Writer: Learn from the Masters

Regardless of your genre (mystery, romance, horror, science fiction, fantasy, mainstream, or literary), you will hone your writing skills as a result of this class’ examination of the ways masters of the art and craft created intellectually and emotionally rich and compelling stories that became classics.

Click to continue.

5 Unexpected Benefits to Writing a Supernatural Love Interest

5 Unexpected Benefits to Writing a Supernatural Love Interest

Who says ghost can’t have a little fun? Author Ashley Poston shares 5 benefits to writing a supernatural love interest.

Stephen J. West: On Art and Masculinity

Stephen J. West: On Art and Masculinity

Writer Stephen J. West discusses the decade-long process of writing his new nonfiction novel, Soft-Boiled.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 616

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a deep thoughts poem.

Writing a Debut Novel as a Woman of a Certain Age

Writing a Debut Novel as a Woman of a Certain Age

Debut novelist Barbara Graham discusses the experience of publishing her debut novel in her 70s and how life experience made her story more powerful.

In a Dream

In a Dream

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, set your story inside a dream.

Writer's Digest Best General Resources Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best General Resources Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top general resource websites as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

From Our Readers

What Book Ended in a Way That You Didn’t Expect but Was Perfect Anyway?: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers question: What book ended in a way that you didn’t expect but was perfect anyway? Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

From Script

A Deep Emotional Drive To Tell Stories (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, read interviews with filmmakers Wendey Stanzler and Maria Judice. Plus a one-on-one interview with Austin Film Festival’s executive director Barbara Morgan.

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Award-winning author Paul Tremblay discusses how a school-wide assembly inspired his new horror novel, The Pallbearers Club.