Recently, my friend and I toured Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida. The visit left me inspired and amazed by his accomplishments. This Nobel Prize-winning author published seven hefty novels between 1926 and 1952.
I brought home three lessons that I recommend for all new writers:
- Persevere. The man never stopped writing, even while recovering from major injuries and illnesses. I learned that he’d sustained severe shrapnel wounds to both legs from mortar fire in WWI at age 18. He pulled a skylight down on his head while living in Paris, which left a permanent scar on his forehead. In Wyoming, he broke his arm in a car accident. It took a year to heal the nerves in his writing hand. While on a safari in East Africa, he contracted dysentery that caused a prolapsed intestine. Another car accident caused a serious concussion. A few years later, he survived two plane crashes on a trip to Africa, resulting in a broken skull, second-degree burns, cracked discs, a kidney and liver rupture, and a dislocated shoulder. He must have spent most of his life recuperating.
- Be disciplined. He’d get up at 6 a.m., walk from his second-floor bedroom across a catwalk to his garage studio, and write until noon. Six hours every day devoted to his work. No interruptions. I wonder how he would have dealt with internet distractions?
- Take a break. Around noon, Mr. Hemingway would head to the house for lunch. He devoted the afternoon and evening to fun activities. He’d play with his 70 six-toed cats. That’s not a typo. Visit his house. Fifty-nine feline descendants still occupy the grounds. He’d also deep-sea fish and hang out with his buddy, the owner of Sloppy Joe’s Pub. These pursuits would clear his mind to start afresh the next morning.
What a legend. Fans loved him so much they named a planet, a Montblanc fountain pen, furniture, safari clothes, and restaurants after him. Numerous writing contests, awards and scholarships have been established in his honor.
Have you read any of his books? If so, what’s your favorite?