Hemingway’s strange trick

By June 22, 2020June 24th, 2020Approach, focus

Writing is crucial in the legal profession. Writing well is a huge advantage.

Mainly, because good writing is a sign of good thinking (by the way, so is good editing).

So…

Do you want to sharpen your thinking/writing using a simple, easy method?

It’s a simple method that produces powerful results but doesn’t take a lot of time.

Does that sound interesting?

Well, to set this up properly, I first need to tell you about Ernest Hemingway’s trick for overcoming writer’s block.

In his book “A Moveable Feast,” he explained his method:

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

So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.”

There is a lot of power in Hemingway’s observation. But, obviously, there are some missing dots to connect.

Specifically…

How can you use Hemingway’s trick to dramatically improve your writing and thinking?

Well, don’t worry. You don’t need to connect the missing dots. That’s what I’m going to help you do.

But not now.

In my next blog post I’ll tell you how to connect the dots you need to connect.

For now, I’ll leave you with this. Hemingway once said that the greatest shortest story was this one.

“Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.”

Notice that the “story” is only six words long.

And yet…

Those six words pack power.

They make you start to wonder.

And they tell a simple story.

Which is kind of weird, right?

Especially for us lawyers because we have so much trouble keeping things simple.

But, maybe we learn how to do that.

To improve our writing and our thinking.

In the next post, I’ll explain how to do that without driving yourself into paroxysms of perfectionism.

Because that’s another thing that we lawyers tend to do.

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