The greatest writing challenge of all

Writers never finish learning how to write. ‘We are all apprentices’, Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘in a craft where no-one ever becomes a master.’

Ernest Hemingway ( J F Kennedy Presidential library, released to public domain)
Ernest Hemingway ( J F Kennedy Presidential library, released to public domain)

Too true.  It is an endless learning curve. Steep at first – as novice writers realise how much they have to learn, take their first unsteady steps into that world. Later it’s easier. But even those who have mastered the craft – who have achieved the 10,000 hour, million-word goal, cannot rest on their laurels.

There is no such thing as saying ‘I have learned how to write’. No writer ever finishes learning. The onus is on all writer, always, to push the edges – to sit down, as Hemingway also put it, at the typewriter and bleed.

My take? When you finish writing for the day, the question isn’t ‘what is my word count’. The question is ‘on what emotional journey have I taken my readers’?

And then you have to ask ‘how can I make that a better journey tomorrow?’

Take on the challenge.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014


9 thoughts on “The greatest writing challenge of all

  1. Sometimes I think I start over every time I sit down and put my fingers to the keyboard. You bring some tools to the job, like whatever talent you might possess and the willingness you have to hone that talent and the determination to put one word after another. Matched against that is the simple fact that when you do this, you are actually sitting on that very tenuous line between the known and the unknown, and snatching words and sentences out of the latter. For me that’s why it’s exciting, and why there is no such thing as mastering the craft.

  2. My god, that is classic Hemingway, “sit down at the typewriter, and bleed.” That about sums it up though. I like the idea of taking the reader on an emotional journey. Although, the closer I look at what I like to read, I realize I enjoy a visionary journey. Primarily, I read science fiction. If an author hasn’t included enough technical details, or hasn’t used plausible science, I feel let down. But if an author includes many details in his/her future vision, it’s exciting for me. I think the emotion I’m most drawn to is “wonder.” I think that’s what I’ll shoot for in my writings.

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