What to leave out: The key to creativity

I highly recommend long reading. Not least because of the lovely knowledge that unfurls from it. I also think that committing to a long read narrows, focuses, hones and gets you still. It’s the antidote to the frazzle of short-form toggling.

Image by Steve McCurry
Image by Steve McCurry

It’s a Sunday afternoon thing for me, to read all the lengthy prose I’ve collated during the week from the The New Yorker, Atlantic, The New York Times, The Monthly and The Quarterly Essay. I “flag for follow up” or email links and tweets to myself during the week. And then open them all at once and dive in. (Out of interest, how do you go about it, if indeed you do?)

All of which is a funny preamble to today’s good quote share that I pulled from The New Yorker long writer John McPhee’s essay on omission which, ironically goes on…and on (worth a long read!). It’s an Ernest Hemingway quote:

“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.

The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”

If you’re a writer, take note of this trick – cutting out stuff that you can gamble your reader will get, or will

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