write drunk. edit sober.

Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Ll...

Image via Wikipedia

My man Ernest Hemingway may have been on to something with his (in)famous exhortation the difference between writing and editing.

I am a writer and editor in my offline life, and everything that comes across my desk—written by yours truly or not—gets scrutinized at least four times before getting published. My reputation and that of my company depends on me getting it right every time. (But no pressure.)

That’s a lot to ask of someone, so when it comes to blogging, my methods are far more relaxed. Unlike my paid writing, I don’t read it aloud. I don’t read it forward for style and again for grammar. I don’t read it backward word by word to make sure there are no typos. I don’t have anyone else read it before it goes live.

When writing my blog, I do what editors everywhere tell you not to: I edit as I go along. I may read it over once before hitting publish. I’ll let WordPress do a spellcheck. That’s about it. It’s oddly liberating, to tell you the truth.

Then, I have apps that tw

eet the blog and send it to my Facebook page. And that’s about all there is to it, for me, anyway.


This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

One thought on “write drunk. edit sober.

  1. “Write drunk, edit sober” sounds good, but the problem is that it’s not by Hemingway. The quote is all over the internet being attributed to EH, but no one ever gives a source in Hemingway’s works or conversations. This is because the quote is almost certainly by a novelist called Peter De Vries. He published a novel called “Reuben, Reuben” in 1964, where the main character is based on a famous drunkard poet, Dylan Thomas. On page 242 the character says this:

    “Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”


    The book is out of print I think, and I only found the quote because it was quoted at that link in The Writer in 1966. Oddly enough, some people online attribute the quote to Dylan Thomas, again without giving a source in Thomas. They don’t realise that they are quoting the words a novelist put in the mouth of a character based on Thomas. Occasionally the quote is attributed to Mark Twain, again without a source. I have no idea why people attribute it to Hemingway, since there is no source for it. Hemingway is a famous name, so the quote spreads like wildfire because of that I suppose. However, there is no source in Hemingway’s works or conversations, so it’s not his quote unfortunately.

Fire back:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s