Bad Advice that’s Actually Good

“Write drunk; edit sober.”

It’s a quote often given attribution to Earnest Hemmingway, arguably one of the greatest writers of all time. It’s wrong. He didn’t say that. And given enough internet research, people can easily discover that this was indeed the case: Hemmingway never said it, and he never practiced it.

At least he never practiced it in the literal sense of the phrase.

When reading that statement, that equally good and bad advice, I see something beyond the literal meaning. My instinct isn’t to pound a few beers (although beer is a hobby I very much enjoy – although not for the “getting drunk” aspect). Shot glasses aren’t found with the lingering scent of liquor. I read a statement about getting past inhibitive writing.

Yesterday, I posted about an emotion I’ve dealt with for a good portion of my life. It was the doubt surrounding not knowing what I am doing. Interpreting the writing advice above, I associate it with the act of numbing or inhibiting those doubts, those things that prevent a writer from writing, and then editing after.

It’s getting out of your head.

It’s advice I need to take to heart, advice I tried to listen when placing the phrase “it’s never going to be perfect, so let it be perfect” on my notebook. I need to ignore my inhibitions when writing.

It might be wrong, but it’s just good advice.

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