Feb 3, 2008

writing advice from Ernest Hemingway via Natalie Goldberg

For how long do you pursue your writing goals? For instance, my goal is to earn a living as a freelance writer (at least $30,000 per year). Do I send out article queries and book proposals for a whole year? Two? Ten? Fifty? I’ve already been trying for almost two years, and have barely earned 10K.

When do I give up for my own good?

Writing quotation: “Hemingway writes in Green Hills of Africa about young American men who went to Paris for two years to try out being artists. If they weren’t successful, they planned to go home and work in their fathers’ businesses,” writes Natalie Goldberg in Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. “Hemingway said that that is the wrong attitude, that you have to be willing to give as long as it takes.”

Writing tip: On “giving up for your own good”, Ernest Hemingway says (via Natalie Goldberg): NEVER. You don’t give it a year or two, or ten. You give it as long as it takes.

Luckily, “as long as it takes” is up to us as individual writers. For me, as long as it takes could mean I keep pursuing my writing goals until my husband insists I get a paying job and stop neglecting him (at least 10 years). For Hemingway, it could be until…I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s profound.

What is “as long as it takes” for you? Tapping into that clarity and determination will make you a better writer, and perhaps spur you to stick with your writing goals.

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