Never mistake motion for action a quote from Ernest Hemingway
Whats the meaning of this?
It means that people can bustle around and make a big fuss, but won’t necessarily get anything accomplished.
Hemingway probably meant that we should watch out that we don’t waste our given time by moving aimlessly through our lives without making that extra bit of effort which turns our movements into achievements.
Hemingway was referring to motion in action in narrative. This quote means that just because your characters are moving from location to location, this itself does not constitute a compelling action worthy of moving along the narrative. Two modern examples of the contradiction are in the television programs Once Upon A Time and Game of Thrones. OuAT takes groups of people and constantly moves them about, keeping the characters constantly moving. Yet, from a plot standpoint the show is soap operatic at best. Take in contrast GoT. On Game of Thrones, characters are constantly moving, but every single movement is related to the development and moral compass of the character. Ergo, as far as compelling narrative goes, on the one hand you have simple movement and motion, on the other you have literary action.
Have you heard the expression “Running around like a chicken with its head cut off?” That is meaningless motion. A meaningful action can be as physically undramatic as signing a document.
As usual, Shakespeare had words for it.
“It was a tale told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (MacBeth)
Just because you attempted something, doesn’t mean you gave it your all, that you tried you best.
The moral is that you should always try, at least, with the ammount of effort needed for success.
It means that your moving but not getting any where in life 😀