My Favorite Writing QuotesOctober 27, 2013
Google, in all their wisdom, has decided to shut down iGoogle, saying it's not used for much. All I do on my page is store my favorite writing quotes, so I guess they might have something there. I was casting about in my mind: WHERE WILL I KEEP THE QUOTES? when I realized I have a place! Right here!
At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you. GOETHE
(This is my favorite quote of all. The week I dedicated myself to writing every day, to really doing it even on the days I had to get up at 3:30am to get the work done, I got my agent. Coincidence? Probably. I'd already written the book, after all. But this quote was large in my mind. The universe does conspire to help you, and it knows when you're finally truly serious.)
Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else. GLORIA STEINEM
For most of my life I felt like this. Now I write so much that now when I'm hanging out with loved ones, or watching Scandal and knitting, I feel just fine, thanks.
Write about it by day, and dream about it by night. E.B. WHITE
I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. E. B. WHITE
I think me and ole Elwyn would have gotten along well.
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. THOMAS EDISON
In fiction, veracity is nice...but believability is all that you're really required to provide and all that your audience has a right to expect. ROBERT MASELLO - Robert's Rules of Writing
Anybody who shifts gears when he writes for children is likely to wind up stripping his gears. E.B. WHITE
Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. LOUIS L'AMOUR
I’m like a big old hen. I can’t cluck too long about the egg I’ve just laid because I’ve got five more inside me pushing to get out. LOUIS L'AMOUR
Don't you just love this man?
Don’t get it right, just get it written. JAMES THURBER
I have so little control over the act of writing that it's all I can do to remain conscious. DAVID RAKOFF
I die over this line.
No one ever said it would be easy. ANNIE DILLARD
I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil. TRUMAN CAPOTE
When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself. ISAK DINESEN
Writing is when we make the words. Editing is when we make the words not shitty. CHUCK WENDIG
How much a character cares about his/her goals is in direct proportion to how much the reader will care. LAURA DEVRIES
Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it. MADELEINE L’ENGLE
You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer, an almost physical nerve, the kind you need to walk a log across a river. MARGARET ATWOOD
I saw her speak recently. She remains my hero. A smarter, classier, funnier woman I think there never was.
As for discipline—it's important, but sort of overrated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. ELIZABETH GILBERT
Nulla dies sine linea. Let that be their motto. And let their work be to them as is his common work to the common labourer. No gigantic efforts will then be necessary. He need tie no wet towels round his brow, nor sit for thirty hours at his desk without moving,—as men have sat, or said that they have sat. More than nine-tenths of my literary work has been done in the last twenty years, and during twelve of those years I followed another profession. I have never been a slave to this work, giving due time, if not more than due time, to the amusements I have loved. But I have been constant,—and constancy in labour will conquer all difficulties. Gutta cavat lapidem non vi, sed saepe cadendo. - Trollope
Someday, the first line of this will be a tattoo.
If I waited until I felt like writing, I'd never write at all. ANNE TYLER
Talent is cheap. What matters is discipline. ANDRÉ DUBUS
My first writing teacher, Al Landwehr, told me this many, many years ago. He told me I had the first, wasn't sure if I had the second. I was SO MAD, mostly because I knew he was right. So I went about proving him wrong about the latter. (Not about the former.)
I write pieces and move them around. The fun of it is watching the truthful parts slide together. What is false won't fit. ELIZABETH STROUT
Never be ashamed of your subject, and of your passion for your subject. JOYCE CAROL OATES
The tradition I was born into was essentially nomadic, a herdsmen tradition, following animals across the earth. The bookshops are a form of ranching; instead of herding cattle, I herd books. Writing is a form of herding, too; I herd words into little paragraphlike clusters. LARRY McMURTRY
I am the border collie of active verbs!
Easy reading is damned hard writing. NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
This is why I am pleased instead of insulted every time anyone says my books are easy to read.
Writing is driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make whole trip that way. E.L. DOCTOROW
Writing makes no noise, except groans, and it can be done everywhere, and it is done alone. URSULA K. LEGUIN
Every time I hear writers talk about “the muse,” I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job. NORA ROBERTS
"Sister Mary Responsibility kicks the Muse's ass every single day." Nora Roberts, great video HERE.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath. F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand. HENRY MILLER
I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork. PETER DE VRIES
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives… ANNIE DILLARD
I had a postcard with this phrase on my refrigerator. I looked at it daily during the ten years I wasn't really writing. It didn't feel good to think about. Then I started Really Writing, and this is true: I lost the postcard. I know how I'm spending my life.
Humor is what happens when we're told the truth quicker and more directly than we're used to. ANN PATCHETT
Getting the first draft finished is like pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor. JOYCE CAROL OATES
The first 8 drafts are terrible. MALCOLM GLADWELL
Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving. NEIL GAIMAN
Take the time to write. You can do your life's work in half an hour a day. ROBERT HASS
You run it through your mind until your tuning fork is still. MARTIN AMIS
If you’re going to tell people the truth, be funny or they’ll kill you. BILLY WILDER
An overflow of creative urges is the reward for indulging in the new. JULIA CAMERON
I think the hardest part about writing is writing. NORA EPHRON
All I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world. E. B. WHITE
Be obscure clearly. E.B. WHITE
Scenery is fine, but human nature is finer. JOHN KEATS
A word after a word after a word is power. MARGARET ATWOOD
The only way to become a better writer is to become a better person. BRENDA UELAND
The writer must wade into life as into the sea, but only up to the navel. GUSTAVE FLAUBERT
There are techniques and skills to be learned for writing as in any profession or trade. All the stories fall into certain patterns of behavior that we call plots. Plots are nothing but a constantly recurring human situation, patterns of behavior. It’s my belief that 90% of all fiction is based on just 12 to 18 plots, and you can find them in any metropolitan newspaper in any given week. The same plots used by the ancient Greek dramatists were also used by Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens. Nobody “invents” a plot. LOUIS L’AMOUR
Writing is the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting. PETE HAMILL
Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine. MARGARET ATWOOD
No whiners. This rule can be broken if you're talking to your writing partners. Then whine with élan.
I don’t grasp it very readily at all, the “it” being whatever I’m trying to do. ALICE MUNRO
If I’m going slow I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them. RAYMOND CHANDLER
This is my biggest sign that I'm going the wrong direction--the words just don't come. It feels like block, but it's only that I haven't found the right door yet. If I feel around the room blindly, I eventually find the handle.
We have to accept ourselves in order to write. Now none of us does that fully: few of us do it even halfway. Don’t wait for one hundred percent acceptance of yourself before you write, or even eight percent acceptance. Just write. The process of writing is an activity that teaches us about acceptance. NATALIE GOLDBERG
I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don't know what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose. P.G. Wodehouse
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. Robert Frost
Once you’re into a story everything seems to apply ... Wherever you go, you meet part of your story. Eudora Welty
What keeps me writing is that I can only know through writing—my major sense organ is apparently a pencil.
The whole process of writing a novel is having this great, beautiful idea and then spoiling it.
I never think when I write; nobody can do two things at the same time and do them well.
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
One of the things I had to learn as a writer was to trust the act of writing. —E. L. Doctorow
I write because I want more than one life; I insist on a wider selection. It’s greed, plain and simple. -- ANNE TYLER
There are only two things to write about: life and death. -- EDWARD ALBEE
I write pieces, and move them around. And the fun of it is watching the truthful parts slide together. What is false won't fit. -- ELIZ. STROUT
I have always kept notebooks and I go back to them over and over. They are my compost pile of ideas.—Louise Erdrich
I always begin with a character, or characters, and then try to think up as much action for them as possible. -- JOHN IRVING
The imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. --BRENDA UELAND
When I finish a 1st draft, it's always just as much of a mess as it's always been. I still make the same mistakes every time. - MICHAEL CHABON
The process of rewriting is enjoyable, because you’re not in that existential panic when you don’t have a novel at all. - ROSE TREMAIN
Writing is the action of thinking, just as drawing is the action of seeing and composing music is the action of hearing. - BRENDA UELAND
Go looking for an idea and it'll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough. - IRA GLASS
It just requires so much of you, and most of the time you feel dumb.- SALMAN RUSHDIE
You start at the stupid end of the book, and if you’re lucky you finish at the smart end. —SALMAN RUSHDIE