Ernest Hemingway Writing Quotes

Ernest Hemingway was a larger than life writer who captured public imagination through his writings and real-life adventures. He is considered one of America’s best authors. In this article, we will explore his thoughts on writing through his quotes. Some of the topics covered include:

  • How to overcome writer’s block
  • How to generate ideas for writing
  • How to become a good writer

These quotes are mostly taken from his memoir A Moveable Feast and Ernest Hemingway on Writing, a collection of his quotes by Larry W. Phillips.

If you want to learn more about Ernest Hemingway, check out his quick biography.

Quotes on the Writing Life

1. Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

2. Writers should work alone. They should see each other only after their work is done, and not too often then. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

3. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

4. I still need some more healthy rest in order to work at my best. My health is the main capital I have and I want to administer it intelligently. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

5. The minute I stop writing for a month or two months and am on a trip I feel absolutely animally happy. But when you are writing and get something the way you want it to be you get a great happiness too. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

6. I need money, badly, but not badly enough to do one dishonorable, shady, borderline, or “fast” thing to get it.  – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

7. The one who is doing his work and getting satisfaction from it is not the one the poverty bothers – A Moveable Feast (1964)

8. That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

9. I am going to work for success after I am dead and I am going to be very careful of the troops [family] and have no casualties that I can help and I am going to take pleasure in the things that I have while I have them. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

Quotes on Why You Should Write

10. I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. But it is a hell of a disease to be born with.  – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

11. Writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I have ever done – so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

12. Been working every day and going good. Makes a hell of a dull life too. But it is more fun than anything else. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

13. Writing every day made her happy, but as I got to know her better I found that for her to keep happy it was necessary that this steady daily output, which varied with her energy, be published and that she receive recognition. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

14. I was getting tired of the literary life, if this was the literary life that I was leading, and already I missed not working and I felt the death loneliness that comes at the end of every day that is wasted in your life. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

15. It’s enough for you to do it once for a few men to remember you. But if you do it year after year, then many people remember you and they tell it to their children, and their children and grandchildren remember and, if it concerns books, they can read them. And if it’s good enough, it will last as long as there are human beings. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

Quotes on Becoming a Good Writer

16. The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

17. A good writer should know as near everything as possible. Naturally he will not. A great enough writer seems to be born with knowledge. But he really is not; he has only been born with the ability to learn in a quicker ratio to the passage of time than other men. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

18. Whatever success I have had has been through writing what I know about. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

19. Good writing is true writing. If a man is making a story up it will be true in proportion to the amount of knowledge of life that he has and how conscientious he is; so that when he makes something up it is as it would truly be. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

20. You could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

21. The only kind of writing is rewriting. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

22. If a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

23. Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

Quotes on Writing Consistently and Overcoming Writer’s Block

24. 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. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

25. I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

26. I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

27. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

28. My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

29. It was very difficult, and I did not know how I would ever write anything as long as a novel. It often took me a full morning of work to write a paragraph. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

30. When I had to write it, then it would be the only thing to do and there would be no choice. Let the pressure build. In the meantime I would write a long story about whatever I knew best. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

Quotes on How to Recharge and Get Ideas for Writing

31. I had learned already 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. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

32. I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

33. When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing that you were writing before you could go on with it the next day. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

34. I would read so that I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to do it. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

35. There’s no rule on how it is to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

Quotes to Motivate You to Write Without Giving Up

36. Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now’. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

37. Hunger is good discipline and you learn from it. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

38. By then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it by finding something better. – A Moveable Feast (1964)

39. Work could cure almost anything- A Moveable Feast (1964)

40. Writing is a hard business…but nothing makes you feel better. – Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999)

Further Reading

If you loved the quotes by Ernest Hemingway, check out the huge collection of writing quotes below. The collection features the best quotes by some of the most famous writers such as William Faulkner, James Patterson, Annie Dillard, Ray Bradbury and Margaret Atwood among many more.

The quotes are full of valuable advice for any aspiring writer.

If you are struggling to create a business around your writing and need some encouragement, read the quotes below.

  • Sources Cited for Ernest Hemingway’s Quotes

A Moveable Feast (1964) A Moveable Feast [see on Amazon]

Ernest Hemingway on Writing (1999) Ernest Hemingway on Writing [see on Amazon]