Advice to Writers recently had a post about Hemingway claiming to ‘try’ to throw away 90 pages of shit writing to 1 page of masterpiece. His shit:gold ratio is a claimed 90:1.

I was wondering what mine works out to. I think I must have something like 3:1 because in the course of rewrites and editing I must throw away 3 pages for every one decent. This includes not just whole pages or chapters, but all the words I trash in favor of better ones.

At 3:1, am I not critical enough of my writing? I figure when it goes through an editor there’s another 1 page thrown out per 1 that stays… so, maybe I’m at 4:1 after editing.

What is your shit:gold ratio – is it anything like 90:1?

Was Hemingway not just a brilliant writer, but a masterful bullshitter? I think I’d quit the profession after a 20 or 30:1 ratio! Was Hemingway like a monkey banging away on the typewriter keys? Can you imagine how much paper this guy wasted over the course of his lifetime? Holy shite…

Do you really think, while writing a 300 page book he threw away anywhere near the equivalent of 27,000 pages?

Come on now.

I’m calling BS.