1. Stay on your toes.
Never sit a table when you can stand at the bar.
Standing keeps you in a state of readinessto make connections, observations, or even a hasty retreat, should one be necessary.
2. Be selective.
Never to go on trips with anyone you do not love.
Whether choosing travel companions or colleagues, surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Nothing impedes productivity like forced conversation.
3. Always start in pencil.
Wearing down seven number-two pencils is a good days work.
Papa often waxed poetic about the importance of writing in pencil, even measuring his productivity in worn-down implements versus the words on the page. The practice is at least as important as the productso whether youre sketching or scrawling, consider the eraser your creative liberator.
4. Stick to the facts.
If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.
Feigning knowledge or needlessly elaborating upon the facts only creates extra work for everyone involved. In communications both personal and professional, just stick to the simple truthitll set you free.
5. Never stop working.
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Any work worth doing is never truly finished. Theres always room for improvement, so stop focusing on the destination and start enjoying the journey.
6. Be honest with yourself.
You shouldnt write if you cant write.
Lifes too short for denial. Find your natural talent, and run with it.
7. Write what you know.
Up in that room I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline.
Or say what you know. Or do what you know. Whether youre penning a novel or trying to build a process from the ground up, brilliant ideas dont come out of thin air; theyre inspired by real experience.
8. Dont be paralyzed by fear.
The first draft of anything is shit.
Pardon Hemingway's candor, but hes right: Its better start something poorly than to not start it at all. Rather than procrastinate until you have a plan, try tackling your next project immediatelyeven if you have no idea where its going yet.
9. Pay attention.
When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.
Youd be amazed how much time you can waste by circling back to thingsconversations, processes, projectsthat were crystal clear from the beginning. Approach new challenges with open eyes, ears, and mind, and youll already be ahead of the game.
10. Believe it or not, write sober.
My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing.
This is a convincing counter to the write drunk, edit sober edict often attributed to Hemingway, the validity of which is murky at best. No man known for such syntactical precision could possibly have been toasted at the typewriter. The man enjoyed a drink, but only in the right time and place.