“As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come.”

Thanks to John Gruber for unearthing this gem of an interview with Ernest Hemingway:

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

Part of writing, coding, creating is just getting out there and starting to work on something — anything. One the biggest mistakes you can make as a creator is to assume that everything you work on his to be for a finished project or have a set purpose. That prevents you from getting started.

You’re letting visions of future perfection get in the way of the now. What you need to do is be committed to honing your craft every day. Just get up and start creating.

More from the interview:


But are there times when the inspiration isn’t there at all?


Naturally. But if you stopped when you knew what would happen next, you can go on. As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come.

You have to start.

This may mean hacking together some code for a problem that you have always wanted to solve. Your code may not be very good when you’re done, and you may decide that this isn’t worth keeping. And that’s okay.

It’s okay to delete. It’s okay not to publish. The more work that you create that you don’t publish, the more you’ll end up creating good work.

In the end, you’ll be writing more, coding more, drawing more, analyzing more. The point is that you need to hone your craft, and you can’t do that by not doing it.

I have a folder full of drafts for posts for this site. Some of them will be worked over, finished and become posts. Some of them may even become some of the best posts that this site has.

Others will never see the light of day. But they’ll still have a purpose. They will help me hone my craft, put words down and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Some will even be the genesis of other posts and help me find new leads.

What you don’t publish is just as important as what you do publish.

Hemingway just gets up each morning and writes.

Hemingway also reworks:

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

Part of the reason that I have a folder filled with drafts is that many of those posts aren’t just right yet. I’ll edit them, move sections around, delete large portions, make additions, change words, work and rework until I have something that I am satisfied with.

In the end, all I can do is start.