Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Write Drunk, Edit Sober’ Great Marketing Advice


The quote “write drunk, edit sober” is often misattributed to Ernest Hemingway who, as it turns out, never wrote drunk. While Hemingway was definitely a boozer, he wrote in the morning and didn’t start drinking until the afternoon. Or so I’m told.

Writing drunk may sound entertaining, but mistakes get made, tempers flare, and even a small slip up like posting a personal tweet to your company page instead of your personal page can cause a disaster. (On more than one occasion I have heard the excuse, “I was drinking and then one thing led to another.”)

From books to website content to social media posts, people need to write if they want to attract high-paying clients. The best way to attract high-paying clients is to write and to speak.

Michelle Stansbury, PR expert and founder of Little Penguin PR in San Diego, shares that she recommends people take this kind of “write drunk, edit sober” advice with a grain of salt.

“There are those who argue that ‘writing drunk’ is a mental state allowing carefree application of words to paper and not a physical state of intoxication,” says Stansbury. “There is much to be said for loosening up your grip on your words. Perhaps, you may even begin sounding like a human being through your writing, flawed, but authentic.”

For some, writing a blog post or article is a daunting task. Writing drunk is bad advice. But sober editing is great advice.

“Some may need a little liquid courage to get the juices flowing, so all I can suggest is to make sure you are 100% offline because the Internet never forgets,” says Stansbury. “Most importantly, don’t forget the second part of the advice – edit sober. Better yet, get a fresh pair of eyes on your draft to find your typos and grammatical errors.”


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