Hemingway couldn’t just sit down and write cold. He needed writing rules—crutches—that he could lean on for support.
One of his rules involved a word quota. He gave himself the task of writing between 500 and 1,000 words a day, no matter how he felt or how the work was coming. He even recorded his totals on a wall chart. Another one of his rules involved stopping the day’s writing in mid-sentence. The famed author’s last thought would sit incomplete until the next writing session.
Word quotas and unfinished sentences? Why did Hemingway use these gimmicks?
Even for Hemingway, facing the page could be daunting. The right word or plot point could be painfully elusive. Knowing, however, how the session would begin (“I ...