"Write drunk; edit sober.”

"Write drunk; edit sober.”

While we probably shouldn’t be taking drinking advice from Hemingway, we can sure as anything take his writing advice. You might be the type of person who falls asleep soundly after one glass of Chardonnay, but the spirit of Ernest’s counsel holds true: our inhibitions often keep us from writing even a single word. Whether it’s a memoir, a self-help book, an article, or a business plan, write with abandon and reserve your levelheaded perfectionism for the editing phase.

There are infinite ways to overcome the nagging voice in your head that tells you not to write—that voice that judges your first sentence before you can even complete it. Maybe you need to write while listening to the music you loved as a teenager, or perhaps you’re more comfortable speaking your first draft aloud and letting Siri do all the typing. Maybe you write best early in the morning before your brain has fully kicked in, or late at night when the world goes dark and there’s nothing distracting you from communing with your keyboard. You may need to write outdoors, or next to the seashore, or as an anonymous patron in a local coffee shop. Try writing after you go for a run. Watch a clip of your favorite comedian to get you laughing before you put pen to paper. While you’re at it, try writing with an actual pen and paper. And if it’s your style—why not?—go ahead and write with a scotch on the rocks in hand.

Once you’ve gotten your mind out of the way and the words on the page, then it’s time to recall Hemingway’s second piece of advice: edit sober. Come back to your writing with fresh eyes, a clear head, and a healthy dose of detachment. You are now the director leaving coils of film on the editing room floor, and don’t worry—that’s the way it’s meant to be! Be fearless in embracing what’s effective and annihilating what isn’t. Less is very much sometimes more. Don’t be too precious with what you’ve written, and remember that editing is as important as writing. In fact, editing—when done well—is a form of writing, another act of creation. There’s a reason why the acknowledgement pages in most books begin with the profuse thanks of the author to their talented editor: it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. There’s no shame in being ruthless as you edit. If it helps, imagine that the words you’re reading were written by a drunken Hemingway—part profound and part fluff—and do as the great author himself would do; that is, edit, edit, edit.

Not sure you have the time to drop your inhibitions and write the next great American novel? No worries—we can help! Give us a call at 1-844-9-WRITER to talk about how our ghostwriting and editing services can help you to finally write your book!