What every journalist can learn from Ernest Hemingway

Aug 23, 2016
What every journalist can learn from Ernest Hemingway

When you think about the best writers in the history of the world, who comes to mind?

Ernest Hemingway is a top-notch writer whose name is always on the list of the best writers that need no introduction.

It is a world-known fact that learning from gurus is important, so every journalist can make the most out of Hemingway's writing career to find out some actionable tips and pieces of advice. 

Hemingway started his writing career as a journalist when he had been writing for The Kansas City Star. Although Ernest Hemingway was a journalist for a short period around a century ago, his pieces of advice are still actionable for aspiring journalists from all over the world.

Here are five tips journalists can take away from Ernest Hemingway's life and career.

1. Simple and clear writing is key.

"My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way."

A good journalist is a great manager of information who collect data to organize it, wrap it up and show readers the value of the news. The main task for every journalist is to learn how to write texts without being vague.

What journalists can learn: Stop writing vague texts. Help your readers plunge into the atmosphere of the news – use simple language.

2. Hang on every word around you.

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

There is nothing new under the sun, but if you want to stand out from the crowd of journalists, you need to learn how to write something from another angle. Believe it or not, but you don't need to be super-creative: the secret is to listen to other people and use their observations the right way.

What journalists can learn: A good journalist should be all ears in order to collect important data to highlight in the news.

3. There is no limit for perfection.

"I rewrote the ending to 'Farewell to Arms,' the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied."

It goes without saying that practice is the key to success, and when it comes to honing writing skills, the simplest way is to write, rewrite and rewrite a lot. If you're good at writing, you will never be satisfied with the quality of your rough draft. It means you will make efforts to make it brilliant.

What journalists can learn: Polish your writing skills, no matter how experienced as a journalist you are. The more you rewrite the same piece, the better words you use to express your thoughts clearly.

4. Make people believe that writing is your passion.

"It's none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way."

Obviously, good writing skills need some knowledge and basis. Thus, most journalists, even those who are talented, study how to write and express their thought the right way. However, it's important to act like it's in your nature. 

What journalists can learn: If you want to get more clients or bylines, you need to show your self-confidence. Write like journalism is at your heart, and you will grab attention with ease.

5. Write when you’re in the mood to do it.

"You shouldn’t write if you can’t write."

Sometimes you write popular posts that go viral, but sometimes it's nearly impossible to put down words as they simply don't want to come out. And if you've faced this problem, never be to blame yourself for it. Even a proficient journalist needs time and inspiration to create an outstanding material. Thus, take your time.

What journalists can learn: Although being a journalist is your work, it doesn't mean that you need to write all the time. If you're not in the mood to do it, it's better to find another writing-related task like research or interviewing sources. Then, write when you feel most inspired. 

Andrew Howe is a young writer who wants to develop his writing skills, so he has crafted AdverbLess tool to strengthen the prose. Follow Andrew on Twitter.

Photo: Statue of Ernest Hemingway via Shutterstock

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