Coffee Break For Freelancers: Hemingway’s Advice To Fitzgerald

The most valuable piece of writing advice I’ve ever read (and I don’t remember where I read it) was simple: Give yourself the freedom to write a shitty rough draft.

That thought will often get me over the hump at the beginning of writing, when the blank screen feels like an intimidating ocean.

A few days ago, a friend sent me a link to the site Letters of Note.

"All you need to do is write truly and not care about what the fate of it is," Hemingway told Fitzgerald.

The site had posted a letter from Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald, written in response to Fitzgerald’s request for feedback on Tender Is The Night.

The letter is wonderfully entertaining and full of good advice, especially for long-form writers. For anybody, starting almost any project, it contains this wonderful nugget:

“Write,” says Hemingway. “And don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

Check out the rest of the letter here.





The Lifestyle, Uncategorized , , , , ,
Powered by Disqus


  1. Elizabeth MacBride

    That’s funny, Carol. I’ve asked other writers that very question: How do you tell if you’ve written something good? The only common element to their answers is that it takes some time — a day, a week, a month — before you can judge writing in any way.

  2. Carol

    So wonderful to be able to distinguish between the two!