The Hemingway App: So how did Hem do when put to the test?

Hemingway Takes the Hemingway Test. The article is a bit long itself but interesting. There is such a thing as too terse.

By Ian Crouch

Hemingway Takes the Hemingway Test

Charles McGrath wroteabout a newly digitized collection of ephemera from Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban estate, Finca Vigía, which confirms that the famously terse writer was, as McGrath says, “a hoarder.” Ticket stubs, telegrams, Christmas cards, diary entries—all of it amassed in the twenty-plus years that Hemingway kept his house there. Amid the collection, McGrath identifies two notes that Hemingway had seemingly written to himself, in pencil. One reads: “You can phrase things clearer and better.” And the other: “You can remove words which are unnecessary and tighten up your prose.”

The above paragraph scored an “O.K.” in Hemingway, (The app) an app, created by the brothers Adam and Ben Long, which analyzes text and, as it promises, “makes your writing bold and clear.” The program highlights overly complicated words and suggests alternatives (my “all of it” could have simply been “all”). It also calls out adverbs (“newly,” “famously, “”seemingly”), difficult-to-read sentences (the first being “very” hard to read, while the second was just hard), and instances of the passive voice.

Hemingway launched in September, and gained wide notice this week after it was shared on Hacker News. The app is free, and the brothers are working, in their off hours, on a desktop version, as well as an extension for Web browsers.

Hemingway uses a formula to judge the “reading level” of a particular selection of writing, which the Longs said is “a measure of how complex the sentence structure is and how big the words you’re using are.” It scored my first paragraph as Grade 14. The app suggests that anything under Grade 10 is a sign of “bold, clear writing.”

Bold and clear, that’s the popular image of the Hemingway persona—the kind of man, as Lillian Ross observed in her Profile of him for The New Yorker, who could walk into an Abercrombie & Fitch store, and, being approached by a sales clerk, say, simply, “Want to see coat.” And Hemingway’s notes to himself from Cuba show a parallel artistic imperative: the search for blunt, descriptive, concise prose.

So would Hemingway have approved of Hemingway? Or, another question: Would he pass the tests he helped inspire? What about the visually potent opening paragraph from his short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”?

It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. The two waiters inside the cafe knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he was a good client they knew that if he became too drunk he would leave without paying, so they kept watch on him.

Bad news. Hemingway rates merely “O.K.” (Grade 15). That “very” in the first sentence might have been cut. (It may have a point there: Doesn’t the fact that everyone had left but one man suggest just how late it was?) The second sentence is “hard to read” and the third is “very hard to read.” Maybe it’s the shifting perspective? No adverbs, though. Yet, as Hemingway’s paragraphs go, that is perhaps a bit twisty. What about the famously spare early story “The End of Something”? It performs significantly better:

Marjorie sat on the blanket with her back to the fire and waited for Nick. He came over and sat down beside her on the blanket. In back of them was the close second-growth timber of the point and in front was the bay with the mouth of Hortons Creek. It was not quite dark. The fire-light went as far as the water. They could both see the two steel rods at an angle over the dark water. The fire glinted on the reels.

This passage, so Hemingway (the app) tells us, would be readily comprehensible to a fourth grader. The app likes dialogue, too, scoring the next bit of the story similarly:

“I don’t feel like eating,” said Nick.
“Come on and eat, Nick.”
“All right.”
They ate without talking, and watched the two rods and the fire-light in the water.

“The End of Something” is a sharp pocketknife of a story, capturing in its seeming slimness all the depth and disorientation of young man’s stunted attempts at love and friendship—and the places where those two often overlap. Its force comes from the declarative power of its words combined with the implied frustration and muteness of its silences. It is also a prime example of a kind of writing prized by people from E. B. White to Gordon Lish, Elmore Leonard, and numberless creative-writing teachers: show don’t tell, always keep the verbs active and propulsive, never use a two-dollar word when a ten-center might suffice, leave adverbs to the nervous and the self-obsessed. There are, of course, other ways to write, even for a mass audience. Leonard’s own rules for writing (“No 10: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip”) end with him noting that he enjoys many of the writers who break them.VIDEO FROM THE NEW YORKERHow to Draw a Creepy Clown

The Hemingway app is fun to experiment with, and it’s useful in that it calls out in your writing places of friction—allowing you to decide whether they are necessary or merely sloppy. No one is above clarity. And the app, based on the experience of running examples of my own writing through it today, is, like a good editor, attuned to the places where vanity seems to be getting the better of things.

But do we want to write like Hemingway? Or, better, did Hemingway really write like Hemingway? He was able to see the humor in the public’s sense of his work; Lillian Ross caught him, at times, playacting a kind of Indian-speak version of his characters’ reticence: “He read book all way up on plane.” “He like book, I think.” His contained style, and the expectations that it engendered in the reader, made his departures from it all the more powerful. Take this description of Romero, the bullfighter, in “The Sun Also Rises”:

Afterward, all that was faked turned bad and gave an unpleasant feeling. Romero’s bull-fighting gave real emotion, because he kept the absolute purity of line in his movements and always quietly and calmly let the horns pass him close each time.

This breaks several of the Hemingway rules. The passive voice loses points, as do the two adverbs at the end. But “quietly” and “calmly,” are, of course, essential to the point. Bullfighters, masterly or not, avoid the horns most of the time. Only the artists like Romero manage it quietly and calmly. And that word, “quietly,” which is not quite literal, is a little surprise. Regarding the passive voice, it injects emotional uncertainty into the scene. “All that was faked turned bad,” scans like a melody, and in its passivity and slightly odd tense, feels like an elegy. It is not exactly clear. But it’s bold.

Photograph: Torre Johnson/Magnum

Ian Crouch is a contributing writer and a member of The New Yorker’s editorial staff.

Take a trip without leaving home: Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST

Travel Through Books: In times of pandemic, transport yourself to different destinations via travel books

June 27, 2021 3:00 AM

Considering that a third wave is imminent, a wiser and safer alternative perhaps would be to transport oneself to different destinations through books.

Here, we bring to you some popular travel books to read while at home.Here, we bring to you some popular travel books to read while at home.

By Reya Mehrotra

With the lockdowns ending, people have been thronging destinations like Himachal Pradesh to beat the heat and take a break, often flouting Covid protocols. Considering that a third wave is imminent, a wiser and safer alternative perhaps would be to transport oneself to different destinations through books. Here, we bring to you some popular travel books to read while at home.

A Moveable Feast
The 1964 memoir by Ernest Hemingway chronicles his years of struggle as a writer and journalist in the 1920s in Paris. The personal accounts by Hemingway in the story mention many notable figures like Ezra Pound, F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It was published posthumously in 1964. The title comes from Hemingway’s description of Paris to a friend in 1950 when he called it ‘a moveable feast’. In 1956, he recovered two trunks of his notes from the 1920s and that’s when the process of converting them into memoirs began.

What a Journey!

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho’s 1988 allegorical novel The Alchemist was originally written in Portuguese. Andalusian shepherd Santiago’s journey has been chronicled in the classic novel. When a gypsy fortune teller interprets the young boy’s recurring dream, he comes to know that he will discover fortune at the Egyptian pyramids. The boy sets out on a journey and meets several people along the way. The book is about finding one’s destiny and how the universe conspires for something to happen if you really want it. It has inspired a devoted following around the world.

The Adventures of Tintin
For comic book lovers and those who grew up watching/reading The Adventures of Tintin, revisiting the classic piece of literature is like living a childhood dream, which includes travelling to different places along with the central character Tintin. A set of 24 comics created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, the series was the most popular European comic in the 20th century. It was adapted into films, for radio, television and theatre. Tintin is a young and courageous Belgian reporter and adventurer who owns a dog named Snowy, which often helps him.

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road
Canadian author Kate Harris’ Lands of Lost Borders chronicles her explorations as she sets off on her bicycle on the Silk Road, cycling through the remotest places on earth, breaking geographical boundaries, the boundaries she set for herself and the existential need to explore. She grew up dreaming of going to Mars and this childhood yearning resulted in her explorations. The reflective book cherishes the connection between humans and the natural world.

Falling off the Map
Pico Iyer’s Falling off the Map focuses on the lesser explored places and uncovers their cultural wealth while shining a light on their lack of development. In the book, Iyer talks about his travels to Bhutan, Vietnam, Cuba, Argentina, Korea, Paraguay, Iceland and many more. The book explores his experiences of travel to each country and its culture.

In Patagonia
It was Charles Bruce Chatwin’s first book In Patagonia (1977) that established him as a travel writer. As a part of his job, he travelled the world to interview public figures. In 1974, he left The Sunday Times Magazine to visit Patagonia in Argentina, which inspired this book. Chatwin’s work is said to have revived travel literature and inspired writers like William Dalrymple. He spent six months in the region, travelling and meeting people who settled there from other places. The author used the story of ‘brontosaurus’ from his childhood days to frame the story of the trip.

The Innocents Abroad
American writer Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress, is a travel book that was published in 1869 and humorously chronicles Twain’s five-month excursion onboard Quaker City, a chartered vessel, through the Holy Land and Europe in 1867. It’s the best-selling travel book of all times. During the voyage, there were a number of side trips and stops along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The major theme is the conflict between history and the modern world.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
In 1911, Yale professor Hiram Bingham III climbed the Andes Mountains of Peru and found what we now call the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. However, nearly a century later, reports portrayed him as a smuggler who smuggled artefacts from the site.

In the book, author Mark Adams sets out to retrace the path to the citadel along with guides. Through his journey, he takes readers on an adventure-filled tour to the historic landscapes of Peru.

The early days in PARIS
Young man with all of it ahead
Where he wrote in Paris

5 More surprising Facts: continuation of article by Scott Beggs

6. One of Ernest Hemingway’s best works came about from him leaving some luggage at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.

Speaking of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway wrote it later in life (it was published posthumously) after a 1956 stay at the Ritz Hotel in Paris wherein he was reminded that he’d left a steamer trunk (made for him by Louis Vuitton) in the hotel’s basement in 1930. When he opened it, he rediscovered personal letters, menus, outdoor gear, and two stacks of notebooks that became the basis for the memoir of his youth in Paris’s café culture.

Hem and Hadley

7. The famous “Baby Shoes” story is most likely a myth.

Oddly enough, a story many people associate with Hemingway probably has nothing to do with him. The legend goes that one night, while drinking, Hemingway bet some friends that he could write a six-word short story. Incredulous, they all put money on the table, and on a napkin Hemingway wrote the words “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” He won the bet. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence it ever happened. Some newspapers had printed versions of the general plotline in the 1910s without crediting Hemingway, and there’s no record of his link to the phrase until 1991 (in a book about the publishing business), three decades after Hemingway’s death.

Hem and baby bumby

8. Ernest Hemingway almost died in back-to-back plane crashes.

In 1954, Hemingway and his fourth wife, Time and Life correspondent Mary Welsh, were vacationing in Belgian Congo when their sightseeing charter flight clipped a pole and crashed. When attempting to reach medical care in Entebbe the following day, they boarded another plane, which crashed upon takeoff, leaving Hemingway with burns, a concussion, and his brain leaking cerebral fluid. When they finally got to Entebbe (by truck), they found journalists had already reported their deaths, so Hemingway got to read his own obituaries.

9. Ernest Hemingway dedicated a book to each of his four wives.

Each time he got divorced, Hemingway was married again within the year—but he always left something behind in print. The dedication for The Sun Also Rises went to his first wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson; Death in the Afternoon was dedicated to second wife Pauline Pfeiffer; For Whom the Bell Tolls was for third wife Martha Gellhorn; and Across the River and Into the Trees went “To Mary with Love.”

Hadley near the time of her wedding: He dedicated The Sun Also Rises to her

10. Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West features a urinal from his favorite bar.

Hemingway wrote several iconic works, including To Have and Have Not, at his house in Key West, Florida. It’s also where he converted a urinal from a local bar into a fountain. Local haunt Sloppy Joe’s was a favorite watering hole of the irascible author, so when the place went under renovation, Hemingway took one of the urinals as a memento, quipping that he’d already poured enough money into it to make it his.

the house

10 Surprising Facts About Ernest Hemingway


Central Press/Getty Images

Ernest Hemingway was a titan of 20th-century literature, converting his lived experiences in multiple wars into rich, stirring tales like A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The avid sportsman also called upon his love for the outdoors to craft bittersweet metaphorical works like Big Two-Hearted River and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Old Man and the Sea. Here are 10 facts about the writer known as Papa, who was born on July 21, 1899.


Hemingway served as an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I, and on July 8, 1918, he was badly wounded by mortar fire—yet he managed to help an Italian soldier reach safety. The action earned him an Italian Silver Medal of Valor. That honor was paralleled almost 30 years later when the U.S. awarded him a Bronze Star for courage displayed while covering the European theater in World War II as a journalist. His articles appeared in Collier’s and other magazines.

Nurse Agnes Von Kurowsky: Early love


Following D-Day on June 6, 1944, when Hemingway, a civilian, was not allowed to disembark on Omaha Beach, he led a band of Resistance fighters in the French town of Rambouillet on a mission to gather intelligence. The problem was, war correspondents aren’t supposed to lead armed troops, according to the Geneva Convention. The Inspector General of the Third Army charged Hemingway with several serious offenses, including removing patches from his clothing that identified him as a journalist, stockpiling weapons in his hotel room, and commanding a faction of Resistance operatives. Eventually, he was cleared of wrongdoing.

Hemingway always maintained that he’d done nothing but act as an advisor. He wrote to The New York Times in 1951, stating he “had a certain amount of knowledge about guerilla warfare and irregular tactics as well as a grounding in more formal war, and I was willing and happy to work for or be of use to anybody who would give me anything to do within my capabilities.”

With Buck Lanahan


Renowned American modernist writer Gertude Stein moved to Paris in 1903 and hosted regular salons that were attended by luminaries and artists of the time. They included Pablo Picasso, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and a young Ernest Hemingway. Stein became godmother to Hemingway’s first son, Jack, in 1923.

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When Collier’s sent the legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn to China for a story in 1941, Hemingway, her husband, accompanied her and filed dispatches for PM. Documentation from the Soviet Union (revealed in a 2009 book) shows that Hemingway was possibly recruited as a willing, clandestine source just prior to the trip and was given the codename “Argo.” The documents also show that he didn’t deliver any useful political intel, wasn’t trained for espionage, and only stayed on their list of active sources until the end of the decade.


Hemingway chronicled his life in Paris in his 1964 memoir A Moveable Feast, in which he claimed he had one memorable encounter with F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby author shared that his wife Zelda had mocked his manhood by claiming he wouldn’t be able to satisfy a lover. Hemingway offered to investigate the matter and render a verdict. He took Fitzgerald to the bathroom at Michaud’s, a popular restaurant in Paris, to examine the organ in question. Ultimately, Hemingway assured Fitzgerald that his physical endowment was of a totally normal size and suggested he check out some nude statues at the Louvre for confirmation.

Fitz and Hem:


Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Hem and Scott

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is images.jpeg
Rue Gertrude Stein, Paris
Rue Gertrude Stein, Paris

I just finished a book about the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald called “Z.”  It was interesting.  Zelda’s hatred for Hemingway came across loud and clear.  I know that it’s historically true.  However, there’s a claim that Hemingway came on to her, which didn’t strike me as true based on all that I’ve read and Hem’s feelings toward/against her. And there’s another portion in which she wonders if her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hemingway were closet homosexuals who had an attraction to each other.  I don’t know that much about F. Scott Fitzgerald, but there’s not anything in the volumes that I’ve read about Hemingway and his past that would even slightly suggest that. I’ve read all of the hypotheses that Hemingway went ultra-macho to compensate for homosexual feelings. I don’t see that but everyone can have an opinion. Those comments aside, I found that I had sympathy for Zelda’s plight and her frustration in her life with F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Zelda and Scott
Zelda and Scott

I also couldn’t help comparing Fitzgerald, of course, to Hemingway.  When Hemingway met Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald was the star, having come off of  a great success with The Beautiful and Damned. His short stories were successfully being sold and some were going to Hollywood.  F. Scott Fitzgerald was generous with his time and advice to Hemingway and they remained really close friends for a long time before something of quiet falling out occurred, probably due to normal as opposed to cut-throat literary rivalry and partly due to Hemingway’s disgust with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking and Zelda.  Whatever else you can say about Hemingway and his later serious problems with the bottle, for much of his career, he was disciplined when it came to writing.  He often stopped drinking for some significant periods of time while writing and he didn’t drink during the day while he was getting his words down on paper.  Fitzgerald began to drink daily from morning on and for many years, didn’t even try to write. Once Hemingway began to abuse alcohol, it was not good. 

Hem and Fitzgerald shared the editor Max Perkins at Scribners. After their falling out, they used Max to find out about each other. There was attachment between them. Hemingway was so competitive that he had trouble being friends with writing rivals. he was both confidant and insecure. 

Heim in Midnight in Paris
Hem in Midnight in Paris

I also gathered from “Z” that the ragefulness between Zelda and Fitzgerald went on for years and they both treated each other badly.  It was a sort of recreational warfare.  That behavior certainly didn’t occur between Hemingway and Hadley.  I think there was some bitterness in his fighting with Pauline (second wife) in the end, but not the low blows Zelda and Scott hurled.  Hemingway generally felt guilty at the end of a relationship and didn’t rant and rave at his soon to be ex-wife.

The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises

His relationship with Martha (third wife) was an exception because it did become volatile.  Certainly there was anger and insults with Mary (fourth wife) and they might have divorced had Hem lived longer.  With the exception of Martha, Hem’s other three wives didn’t try to compete with him and perhaps that was what he was looking for in a woman. All gave up a great deal of independence to be with him. He tended to prefer stable, smart, but non-challenging women–and Martha was not any part of the latter. Further, he was married four times, whereas Fitzgerald and Zelda were only married once, although affairs did occur in the marriage.

Hemingway and Gellhorn
Hemingway and Gellhorn

I liked the book and I felt for Zelda, which I didn’t expect.  It was interesting to read another perspective on the jazz age, and the whole lost generation crowd in Paris, including the Murphys, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, Ford Madox Ford, Picasso.

You might try it.  It’s an easy read and Hemingway features prominently.

Paris 1927
Paris 1927


Fitz and Hem:

Presentations coming up through The Hemingway Society

For those who are members, the Hemingway Society has some wonderful Webinars coming up. Some are academic; some very timely; some just plain interesting and illuminating. Hope all are having a good summer. Best, Christine

A Publication of the Hemingway Society | July 13, 2021THE HEMINGWAY SOCIETY IS PLEASED TO BEGIN OUR2021 WEBINAR SERIESDear Hemingway Friends, The Hemingway Society’s webinar series–A Dangerous Summer–begins this week with our discussion of The Sun Also Rises on Friday and a joint session with the Fitzgerald Society on the Academic Publishing Marketplace on Wednesday!Dig deep into Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.  Whether you are preparing to teach the novel or just want to revisit it with fellow aficionados, this session will review the publication history, reception, and major critical approaches that have shaped the way we understand this important work. The discussion is moderated by Juliet Conway and features Susan Farrell, Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera, and KatieWarczak. This webinar is Friday, July 16 at 1pm EDT.Register for The Sun Also Rises! 
And before the first Dangerous Summer session, join us for a joint webinar with the Fitzgerald Society on the Academic Publishing Marketplace.  Fitzgerald Review managing editor Kirk Curnutt and Hemingway Review editor Suzanne del Gizzo as they explore the dos and don’ts of writing, submitting, and revising. We’ll be joined by special guests, including Lee Zimmerman, editor of Twentieth-Century Literature; Lynda Zwinger of Arizona Quarterly; Aurora Bell, acquisitions editor at the University of South Carolina Press; and James W. Long, acquisitions editor at Louisiana State University Press.The webinar is Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at 1 pm EDT. For registration, you can click to: REGISTER HERE 

And don’t forget to register for our other Dangerous Summer events!
July 23rd @ 1 pm – Hemingway’s Short StoriesModerated by Ellen Andrews KnodtPanelists: John Beall, Susan Beegel, Donald Daiker, and Ross TangedalJoin us as a small group of scholars candidly discuss some of Hemingway’s short stories. Whether you are preparing to teach Hemingway stories or just want to hear what fellow aficionados have to say about them, this discussion will focus on how we and our students read the short stories now, posing questions such as what elements of the stories interest students and what stories or aspects of Hemingway stories are most problematic now?  Register for The Short Stories!
 July 30th @ 1 pm – Hemingway and Race Moderated by Marc DudleyPanelists:  Gary Holcomb, Ian Marshall, Quentin Miller, and Peggy Wright-Cleveland How might the Black Lives Matter movement affect the way we read, teach, and write about Hemingway? Will it? If so, in what ways? Hemingway and Race is a large and complicated topic. Hemingway wrote about Native peoples and had a long relationship with the Latin world. This panel will focus primarily on Hemingway’s interactions with black people, his portrayals of black characters, and his awareness of and relationship to social movements related to race. Register for Hemingway and Race!
 August 6th @ 1 pm – Hemingway and SexModerated by Suzanne del GizzoPanelists: Carl Eby, Debra Moddelmog, Lisa TylerHow does the #MeToo movement affect the way we read, teach, and write about Hemingway? Gender and sexuality have been defining topics in Hemingway scholarship for nearly forty years now, but #MeToo adds new levels of complexity to that already rich discussion, inviting us to think about the dynamics of sex, seduction, and sexual violence in Hemingway’s work. Register for Hemingway and Sex!
the Hemingway Society |
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The Last Interview (Hemingway, Nora Ephron, and Philip K. Dick). This is not to be missed. Sorry you have to copy link into your browser but you will be rewarded. Listening to Maureen Corrigan is rewarding as well. Best, Christine

These are interesting relatively short vignettes/interviews in which the writers noted talk about life issues and writing. The Hemingway interviews print out to about 112 pages. The below link is an NPR link about the interviews and how alike the three writers featured were in their approaches to writing.

nora ephron

Here is a quote from the article:  “Despite their differences, in their respective interviews, Hemingway, Dick and Ephron are in harmonious agreement about the writing life: namely that it’s composed of one part inspiration and daily buckets of perspiration. Sure, you don’t expect even the most narcissistic artist to go on and on about his or her own genius in an interview, but the degree to which Hemingway, Dick and Ephron — separated by time period and individual temperament — keep hammering home the same message about writing is striking.”

I just finished reading the Hemingway interviews. All were interesting and I particularly like the one by George Plimpton. When Plimpton asked why Hemingway rewrote the end of A Farewell to Arms 39 times, Hemingway said, “To get the words right.” One point that came through repeatedly was how shy Hemingway was when sober and how unwilling he was to talk about his writing “process” or theory.  He felt that to try to analyze his “style” or “technique” might destroy it and he assiduously did not want to talk about those issues.  In fact, he didn’t really want to be interviewed at all but was polite. At times he rambled but these interviews were during periods when Hemingway was suffering bouts of poor health.  Hem is described as seeming old and lonely.

I think you will enjoy them.  Two were done in the late ’50s.  One was done in 1960, which is a year before his death.  Best,  Christine

Hemingway: Always Relevant and Always Being Re-evaluated.

(Marcos Paulo Prado/Unsplash)HEALTH

How These Three Types of Writing Can Improve Self-Awareness And Mental Health


Ernest Hemingway famously said that writers should “write hard and clear about what hurts”. Although Hemingway may not have known it at the time, research has now shown that writing about “what hurts” can help improve our mental health.

having a meal with Ingrid Bergman

There are more than 200 studies that show the positive effect of writing on mental health. But while the psychological benefits are consistent for many people, researchers don’t completely agree on why or how writing helps.

One theory suggests that bottling up emotions can lead to psychological distress. It stands to reason, then, that writing might increase mental health because it offers a safe, confidential, and free way to disclose emotions that were previously bottled up.

However, recent studies have begun to show how an increase in self-awareness, rather than simply disclosing emotions, could be the key to these improvements in mental health.


In essence, self-awareness is being able to turn your attention inward towards the self. By turning our attention inward, we can become more aware of our traits, behavior, feelings, beliefs, values, and motivations.

Research suggests that becoming more self-aware can be beneficial in a variety of ways. It can increase our confidence and encourage us to be more accepting of others. It can lead to higher job satisfaction and push us to become more effective leaders. It can also help us to exercise more self-control and make better decisions aligned with our long-term goals.