Writing Isn’t Easy

For a few months this summer I was a Birchbox member. It’s a pretty cool service. For $20/mo you get a little box full of samples of hair products, shampoo, soap, and other toiletries, and then they also include something interesting like a pair of sunglasses or a wallet or an iPhone cable.

HemingwayThe last package I received contained a trial sized bottle of Histoires de Parfums 1899, which is — if you can imagine — a cologne inspired by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve never worn cologne; it’s just not my thing. (I find it hard to believe that Papa did, either, by the way.) But I do like the smell of it. And so does my wife. What really intrigued me, though, was the quotation printed on the little box:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Ernest Hemingway

Being something of a Hemingway fan, I wondered how it could be that I’d never heard this marvelous line or posted it to my Hemingway collection.

So I did a bit of Googling and found that I was right to be dubious. The Quote Investigator has an excellent entry about this saying. It’s likely that Hemingway never actually said or wrote it, although a decade after he died someone else wrote a book about writing and said he did.

Remember that the next time you see a Facebook post attributing a wise saying to Morgan Freeman or a pithy one to George Carlin. I love those guys, too; don’t get me wrong. But it usually only takes a second of research to discover who really said something.

Writing Isn’t Easy

This post is part of The Hemingway Collection, an archive of essays, images, and hyperlinks to interesting articles about the great American author.

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davidgagne.net is the personal weblog of me, David Vincent Gagne. I've been publishing here since 1999, which makes this one of the oldest continuously-updated websites on the Internet.


A few years ago I was trying to determine what cocktails I could make with the alcohol I had at home. I searched the App Store but couldn't find an app that would let me do that, so I built one.


You can read dozens of essays and articles and find hundreds of links to other sites with stories and information about Ernest Hemingway in The Hemingway Collection.