What hurts. Just write what hurts.


Hemingway said you should “write hard and clear about what hurts.”

I think this matters more than anything for a writer. Any writer. You’ve got to feel some hurt for what you’re writing about. There has to be a deeper connection to your subject. There’s got to be concern. Deep concern. Deep, dug-in, unquestionable concern for what you pay attention to and what you report.

After getting involved with Colombia Reports, my editor said that he needed someone to report from Bogotá. I said I would. He said OK.

When I came to Bogotá, though, my editor wanted me to cover National politics. But I told him I wanted to cover business and finance instead. That’s what concerned me: how is the world is doing business, who is making money, how are they making it, how are they spending it, who wins and who loses?

The thing I like about my editor is that he understands what really drives people. He knows that if I’m deeply concerned with my beat, then I’m going to work hard to get the stories that circulate around that beat. If he pushes me into something I’m not deeply concerned about, I’m going to drown in apathy. My stories will suffer. We both lose that way. He knows it. I know it. You’ve got to write about what hurts.

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