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What’s in Hemingway’s Wastebasket

I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
– Ernest Hemingway
 It’s normal for your first draft to have a lot of words. But sometimes it can be challenging to decide which words are the extra words. It makes me think of Amadeus, when the Emporer tells Mozart there are too many notes, and Mozart asks which notes he should remove.

But the truth is – we’re not Mozart. We have a lot of extra notes that can be excised. Especially for those of us writing for the Internet. Extra words can drive people away from your writing, and therefore, your website.

Thankfully, there’s a simple and free online tool you can use to help you figure this out. (And I make no money off this – I just find it a useful app, so I like to share it with my writers and students, particularly when I see them fall victim to repeated words and excessive adverbs.)

For analysis of where your writing might be too complicated and what words you can likely cut, cut and paste your writing into the Hemingway App. I used it the other day on an article and it became apparent right away that certain words were both repeated and unnecessary.

You don’t have to use this tool and it may not be a tool that’s appropriate for you. But for some of you, it may offer some enlightenment.
There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Becca Borawski Jenkins
Writer & Editor
Becca Borawski Jenkins is an editor, writer, and writing coach. She is currently the Managing Editor at both The Whole Life Challenge and StrongFirst. She specializes in building authority and readership through high-quality content. She also coaches private clients, does developmental editing for non-fiction book projects, and ghostwrites for a variety of story-telling projects she can’t tell you anything about (but that are super, super fun).
Published inWriting for the InternetWriting Technique
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