Apr 162014
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Writing quotes to inspire or commiserate with

Ah! The life of a writer. Up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea. Write it up quickly before the muse leaves, spend a few minutes cleaning it up in the morning, and send the masterpiece off to an eager, waiting publisher. Spend the rest of the day partying with friends and waiting for the next great idea.

As if! Writing is hard, lonely work. Sometimes the ideas don’t come. Sometimes they come, but are half-baked and you don’t know how to finish cooking them. Write and re-write and re-write and still the prose is awkward. Rejection after rejection. It is easy to get discouraged. So you turn to other writers for inspiration.

You sit at your computer or blank sheet of paper and don’t know where to begin or how to start.

The scariest moment is always just before you start.  – Stephen King

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. – Jack London

Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you against a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank sheet of paper wins. – Neil Gaiman

A blank sheet of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God. – Sidney Sheldon

You can fix anything but a blank sheet of paper. – Nora Roberts

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. – William Faulkner

After reading the above wise words, you force yourself to start to write. The germ of an idea grows and you write and write and write. You have a brilliant start and, even maybe, a middle, but you get stuck. Where to go next? How to finish?

You fail only if you stop writing. – Ray Bradbury

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E. L. Doctorow

The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it. – Ernest Hemingway

Don’t get it right – get it WRITTEN! – Lee Child

You finally finish the first draft and feel pretty good about it. You set it aside for a couple of days. When you pull it out again and read it, you are dismayed. It is rubbish.

The first draft of anything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway

One always had a better book in mind than one can manage to get on paper. – Michael Cunningham

It’s perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly. – C. J. Cherryh

You begin to edit and slowly gain confidence the piece can be salvaged. You edit, rewrite and rewrite. You search for the right words, the right turn of phrase. You erase entire paragraphs.

Easy reading is damn hard writing. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

You struggle and question your entire process and approach.

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges. – Ernest Hemingway

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. – W. Somerset Maugham

You finally finish, research publishers, create a phenomenal cover letter and submit your “baby”. You wait and wait. At last, a response. Rejection. You submit again and again. Rejection after rejection. Sometimes no response at all. 

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil. – Isaac Asimov

I used to save all my rejection slips because I told myself, one day I’m going to autograph them and auction them. And then I lost the box. – James Lee Burke

Rejected pieces aren’t failures. Unwritten pieces are. – Greg Daugherty

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it to “the editor who can appreciate my work” and it has simply come back stamped “Not at this address”. Just keep looking for the right address. – Barbara Kingsolver

And you wonder why you keep trying.

I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotion. – James A. Michener

For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word. – Catherine Drinker Bowen

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story within you. – Maya Angelou

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. – Neil Gaiman

Do you have any writer quotes of inspiration (or frustration) to add?

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  15 Responses to “Seeking Writing Words of Wisdom”

  1. I love the quotes! Personally my downfall is the great idea in the middle of the night. If I go back to sleep, chances are I won’t remember it. So I get up and write it down. Then I can’t go back to sleep. And my great idea may or may not looks so great in the morning.

    • It’s hard to find the best way to deal with those middle of the night ideas. Sometimes I wind up awake and writing. Works well only if it’s a day I can go back to bed and sleep in.

  2. These quotes apply to tacking a number of things

  3. So many great quotes 🙂 I only recently realized how I use procrastination as an excuse to not get started on that day’s word count or revision goals. Avoiding something makes it possible not to start,and like Stephen King noted, starting is the scariest part. Once I get started, I’m good too go, but oh man is it ever hard to do just that some days.

  4. I love all of the quotes and the way they fit each phase of the writing process! I especially like the last Neil Gaiman quote! I agree with JeriWB – Sometimes I have the hardest time getting focused and started, but once I do, I can usually finish. Reading a few other blogs or websites before I start writing helps get me in the mindset to think about putting words together.

  5. Hi Donna,
    On of my favorite writing quotes is by the late poet Allen Ginsberg, who offered these words of wisdom: “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”

  6. A very different post and Lovely quotes, Donna!
    The way you have linked each set of quotes with the situations is worth praising!
    Great work!

  7. All very inspirational quotes on writing, what a great pick me up!
    “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” ― Stephen King

  8. Donna, I am with Ray Bradbury on this one. I find it helpful to just write until something that has at least a grain of potential appears and then sort through the chaff to see what is worth preserving. Someone once said that creativity involves not fearing mistakes and art is knowing which ones to keep. Clearly I am not an artist but like the idea anyway.

  9. I love Maya and idenify with her quote. That is what made me start my blog, relief from that agony of an untold story.

  10. Just to say I love these quotes! Show how even the most accomplished writers are laden with self-doubts!

  11. This is such a nice post and the way you have adjusted the quotes describe exact situation that all writers face.
    I really liked these quotes. it is true sometimes an idea strike your mind you shift it on paper and then you do not like it or you are doing a lot of re-writing that totally the concept is changed. Sometimes you are struggling and you find your mind is blank having a blank piece of paper in front of you.

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