Refilling the Writer’s Well Through the Hemingway Journey

Refilling the Writer’s Well Through the Hemingway Journey

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” ~Ernest Hemingway

Rob and I recently imbibed in a glorious Key West vacation. This was my second trip to the southernmost mecca and for Rob, one of many. This cultural dichotomy and intriguing island melds young and old, touts the hip and historical, and encourages relaxed and gregarious activities and entertainment.

Of sites we intentionally revisited, we chose the home of world-renowned author and sometimes controversial personality, Ernest Hemingway.  Our writers' hearts sung as we traipsed through the many rooms: living, kitchen, bedroom and on through to Hemingway's writing quarters where he is known for standing up and writing.

The architecture and history, the arched windows and high ceilings, the plushness of the gardens, the six-toed cats and the overall charm and ambience of the historical venue captivated us. Integral to Hemingway's reputation, though, is his eloquent, yet concise writing style.

While Hemingway's multiple romances and marriages leave some questioning his character, you cannot help but to get swept up when reading the love letters between him and various love interests–some whom he romanced, others whom he eventually married. 

The Value of Letters In Telling Your Story

Jennifer Howard, author of Letters From Papa: An Unexpected Hemingway Emerges From His Correspondence quoted Patrick Hemingway, "To know what Ernest Hemingway was really like, don't read biographies of him. Read his letters."

Moreover, it seems Hemingway's writing gift also translated into tailored, idiosyncratic and lively conversational letters to friends, family and colleagues.

Howard continues by referencing the 'off-the-cuff-feel' of Hemingway's letters where he urged correspondents to 'screed' him (to write him back), calls friends and siblings 'kid' and 'old bean' and refers to his typewriter as, 'the typer.'

He addressed letters to his beloved last wife, Mary Welsh with, "My Dearest Pickle," according to an article in the ABC News, Letters Show Hemingway as 'Besotted Lover.' 

"I want to serve you well and true the way some very dull people want to serve their country and even sadder people want to serve their God. But sometimes are very happy at it," he wrote to her. "You're a very small god with a face that breaks my heart."

Vigorous Writing Impacts Emotion and Intellect

Vigorous writing that elicits love, hope, desire, warmth, affection, intellectual enthusiasm and inspiration is at the soul of impactful letters, and specifically what I have encountered in reading Hemingway's personal correspondence. 

As quoted in Critical Essays, Hemingway's Writing Style, Hemingway describes his own writing this way: "A writer's style should be direct and personal, his imagery rich and earthy, and his words simple and vigorous. The greatest writers have the gift of brilliant brevity, are hard workers, diligent scholars and competent stylists."

And he admitted to taking great pains with his work, "pruning and revising with a tireless hand," in order to "burnish (the creations) until they become brilliants."

Refill the Writer's Well Through the Hemingway Journey 

The essence of stories that are told through rigorously and vigilantly shaped content is powerful. The writer's well for inspiration is never quite full, and in particular, those of us who write stories for a living must work tirelessly to maintain our muse. Visiting Ernest Hemingway's estate and then following up with further research on this bigger-than-life author has been an inspiring journey that I began in 2010, restarted in 2014 and plan to continue for many years to come!


By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter | Writer and Partner, I Want To Write For You






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7 Responses to “Refilling the Writer’s Well Through the Hemingway Journey”

  1. DorleeM says:

    Dear Jacqui and Rob,


    Thank you for sharing this lovely picture of Ernest Hemingway’s home as well as some wonderful excerpts.


    I want to wish you the best of luck in this venture. There is no question in my mind that you will be successful.


    Both of you are truly gifted writers as the above description of your visit to Ernest Hemingway’s abode illustrates.


    You both also demonstrate much fun, creativity as well as thoughtfulness in your writing and overall approach to life.  These characteristics will serve you well in your mission to help others write “stories that sing,” “when the words just will not cooperate with thoughts” or whatever it is that they need…




  2. Jacqui says:

    Good morning, Dorlee,

    Rob and I are grateful for your heartfelt comment, support and belief in our launching a successful venture.

    We aspire to serve each our clients with energy and inspiration, and it is our own adventures (as in our visit to the Hemingway house) that help fuel our word stories.

    Again, thank you so much for your well wishes!



  3. Dear Jacqui and Rob,

    It's not a big surprise that you should choose the following quote:  "A writer's style should be direct and personal, his imagery rich and earthy, and his words simple and vigorous. The greatest writers have the gift of brilliant brevity, are hard workers, diligent scholars and competent stylists."

    It is the reflection I see written in the mirror when I stand over your shoulder and read your compositions. No windex required! 

    Wishing you and Rob the writer's equivalent of "Break a leg!" 

    • Jacqui says:


      You have such a uniquely lovely way of commenting on our posts. 

      Thank you for zeroing in on that quote which definitely resonated with my head and heart. To know that our writing reflects that style in your reading mirror makes my heart sing.

      With much appreciation,


  4. I loved seeing all the photographs from your Hemingway tour on Facebook and this post is just the icing on the cake. Wow! I've always wanted to start an entrepreneurial endeavor with Dragonslayer, but our talents are so separate (at least for now, it seems), that I don't see how it can happen.

    I'll just have to live vicariously through you and Rob and your dual endeavor. I can't say I'm not a tiny bit jellie (but in a friendly way). 

    Love all the Hemingway quotes you've chosen. My favorite being the first about writing the truest sentence you know. Love that! 

    As an aside, did you know that there's a smartphone app that claims to teach you how to "write like papa"? I haven't checked it out yet, but plan to do! 

    • Samantha,

      What a thoughtful comment! Glad we could sweeten the cake with icing here. 

      This was our second Hemingway House visit, and it didn't disappoint. We spent even more time in the gardens this time on a lovely, perfect-weather day. I think you would love all the kitty cats sauntering around his property.

      Thanks for pointing out your fave Hemingway quote – I believe that is one of Rob's preferred, too. Mine are more likely his love-letter writings :) I'm a mush like that.

      "Jellie in a friendly way" <- I love it! You and Dragonslayer (and your kiddos) have carved out such a colorful, exciting life, I know that you were smiling as you wrote that.

      You know, I *think* I did see that smartphone app float through my Facebook screen recently. Something about it made me go, hmmm, not sure if I want that, or not. Probably should load it and at least test it out, for the fun of it! If you check it out first, I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll do the same!

      Merci my lovely writing maven friend,


      • You nailed it! I was smiling as I wrote that. I'm sure you'll get to know my impish (and other types) of smiles well this summer when we all four meet IRL. 

        I would LOVE to visit Hemingway house some day. That quote is one of my favorites. My other is Papa's reply when someone asked him about how difficult it was to write. He says, "There's nothing to writing. You just sit at the typewriter and bleed." For me, this is the truest sentence. 

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