Roald Dahl (and Hemingway) on writing.

“One of the vital things for a writer who’s writing a book, which is a lengthy project and is going to take about a year, is how to keep the momentum going. It is the same with a young person writing an essay. They have got to write four or five or six pages. But when you are writing for a year, you go away and have to come back. I never come back to a blank page; I always finish about halfway through. To be confronted with a blank page is not very nice.

“But Hemingway, a great American writer, taught me the finest trick when doing a long book, which is, he simply said in his own words, “When you are going good, stop writing.” And that means that if everything’s going well and you know exactly where the end of the chapter’s going to go and you know just what the people are going to do, you don’t go on writing and writing until you come to the end of it, because when you do, then you say, well, where am I going to go next? And you get up and you walk away and you don’t want to come back because you don’t know where you want to go.

“But if you stop when you’re going good, as Hemingway said…then you know what you are going to say next. You make yourself stop, put your pencil down and everything, and you walk away. And you can’t wait to get back because you know what you want to say next and that’s lovely and you have to try and do that. Every time, every day all the way through the year. If you stop when you are stuck, then you are in trouble!”

Edit 2018: I revisited this post to find the source of this quote as I did not originally provide a link. Consequently I found this post on SilverBirch Press which describes a bit more about the relationship between the two writers (there’s a phot too>).

 

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