“The First Draft of Anything is…..”

This morning I met with a teacher who is frustrated with the writing of his students. He has been working very hard. He has provided graphic organizers. He has them write drafts. He has put notes on their papers to help them with revisions.

I tried to explain how difficult writing is…but maybe I could have shared a statement a famous writer has already made about writing. The statement is concise, but a bit vulgar.

I could have shared what Ernest Hemingway once said:

“The first draft of anything is shit.”Hemingway

How accurate is this quote? The website Quote Investigator traced the context for Hemingway’s statement to the reporter Arnold Samuelson in his book A Year in Key West and Cuba

According to Samuelson, Hemingway explained the frustrations of writing this way:

“Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.”

It’s good to hear how Hemingway’s advice…albeit with colorful commentary….confirms the difficulty of the writing process.


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