Helpful Quotes To Inspire And Guide You

2:22 PM


Right now, we're all in different places on the same path. Some of us are learning about how to start. Some are learning about style and craft. While some of us are further along and just looking for a little motivation.

I can't know exactly what you need at this moment, but there is a little something for everyone in this post.

I decided to share some of the best quotes on writing that I could find, covering a wider range of topics than I can usually cover in one post.

Hopefully, you can find something here to help you wherever you are on your writing journey.

Motivation

"If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is. Who am I? What right do I have to speak? Who will listen to me if I do? You're a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle."
-Richard Rhodes

"Believe in your own identity and your own opinions. Proceed with confidence, generating it, if necessary, by pure willpower. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it. Use it's energy to keep yourself going."
-William Zinsser

"One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book. Give it, give it all, give it now."
-Annie Dillard

"Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."
-William Faulkner

"Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of the chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write. Just write."
-Natalie Goldberg

"Learn to write by doing it. Read widely and wisely. Increase your word power. Find your own individual voice through practicing constantly. Go through the world with your eyes and ears open and learn to express that experience in words."
-P.D. James

"This is our life and it's not going to last forever. There isn't time to talk about someday writing that short story or poem or novel. Slow down now, touch what is around you, and out of care and compassion for each moment and detail, put pen to paper and begin to write."
-Natalie Goldberg

Inspiration and Ideas

"Don't think and then write it down. Think on paper."
-Henry Kemelman

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
-Jack London

"If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, films, novels, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed quickly, to trap them before the escape."
-Ray Bradbury

"Every idea is my last. I feel sure of it. So I try to do the best with each as it comes and that's where my responsibility ends. But I just don't wait for ideas. I look for them. Constantly. If I don't use the ideas that I find, they're going to quit showing up."
-Peg Bracken

"What they pay me for is the leap of faith that says: "If I sit down and do this, everything will come out okay."
-Stephen King

Getting Started

"Beginning a novel is always hard. It feels like going nowhere. I always have to write at least 100 pages that go into the trashcan before it finally begins to work. It's discouraging, but necessary to write those pages. I try to consider them pages -100 to zero of the novel."
-Barbara Kingsolver

"I do a great deal of research. I don't want anyone to say, 'That could not have happened.' It may be fiction, but it has to be true."
-Jacquelyn Mitchard

"Don't quit. It's very easy to quit during the first ten years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it's very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can't get fired if you don't write, and most of the time you don't get rewarded if you do. But don't quit."
-Andre Dubus


"Two questions form the foundation of all novels: 'What if?' and 'What next?' (A third question, 'What now?',is one the author asks himself every ten minutes or so; but it's more of a cry than a question.) Every novel begins with the speculative question, What if 'X' happened? That's how you start."
-Tom Clancy


Plot And Structure
"Too many writers think that all you need to do is write well, but that is only part of what a good book is. Above all, a good book tells a story. Focus on the story first. Ask yourself, 'Will other people find this story so interesting that they will tell others about it?' Remember: A best-selling book usually follows a simple rule, 'It's a wonderful story, wonderfully told'; not, 'It's a wonderfully told story."
-Nicholas Sparks

"Don't put anything into a story that does not reveal character or advance the action."
-Kurt Vonnegut

"Transitions are critically important. I want the reader to turn the page without thinking she's turning the page. It must flow seamlessly."
-Janet Evanovich

"And while dollars have little to do with it, the fiction writer should be asking the same question any capable film producer would ask: Is this scene truly necessary? It is the kind of thinking that, put into practice, results in a story with a sense of energy and direction."
-Les Standiford

Characters

"When writing a novel, a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature."
-Earnest Hemingway

"You can never know enough about your characters."
-W. Somerset Maugham

"A novelist's characters must be with him as he lies down to sleep, and as he wakes from his dreams. He must learn to hate them and to love them."
-Anthony Trollope

"People do not spring forth out of the blue, fully formed. They become themselves slowly, day by day, starting from babyhood. They are the result of both enviroment and heredity, and your fictional characters, in order to be believable, must be also."
-Lois Duncan

"A writer must always leave room for the characters to grow and change. If you move your characters from plot point to plot point, like painting by the numbers, they often remain stick figures. They will never take on a life of their own. The most exciting thing is when you find a character doing something surprising or unplanned. Like a character saying to me: 'Hey Richard, you may think you own me, but I don't. I'm my own person."
-Richard North Patterson

"Writers shouldn't fall in love with their characters so much that they lose sight of what they're trying to accomplish. The idea is to write a whole story, a whole book. A writer has to be able to look at that story and see whether or not a character works, whether or not a character needs further definition."
-Stephen Coonts

Rituals And Methods

"It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not remain amateurs."
-Gerald Brenan

"Get up early and get going at it at once, in fact, work first, and wash afterwards."
-W. H. Auden

"Write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you are writing, and aren't writing particularly well."
-Agatha Christie

"It's a job, not a hobby. You don't write the way you build a model airplane. You have to sit down and work, to schedule your time and stick with it. Even if it's just for an hour or so each day, you have to get a babysitter and make the time. If you're going to make writing succeed, you have to approach it as a job."
-Rosellen Brown

"I try to write a certain amount each day, five days a week. A rule sometimes broken is better than no rule."
-Herman Wouk

"I like to say that there are are three things that are required for success as a writer: talent, luck, discipline. Discipline is the one that you have to ficus on controlling, and you just have to hope and trust in the other two."
-Michael Chabon

Style And Craft

"You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, 'This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I'm doing the best I can- buy me or not- but this is who I am as a writer."
-David Morell

"You should really stay true to your own style. When I first started writing, everyone said to me, 'Your style isn't right because you don't use the really flowery language that romances have.' My romances, compared to what's out there, are very strange, very odd, very different. And I think that's one of the reasons they're selling."
-Jude Deveraux

"You have to be a little patient if you're an artist. People don't always get you the first time."
-Kate Millett

"If the stuff that you're writing is not for yourself, it won't work."
-Stephen King

"Keep in mind that the person you write for is yourself. Tell the story that you most desperately want to read."
-Susan Isaacs

"The best rule for writing- as well as for speaking- is to always use the simplest words that will accurately convey your thought."
-David Lambuth

"What lasts in the reader's mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not effecting the reader, what's it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse."
-Isaac Asimov


Do you have a favorite writing quote? Share it in the comments and I'd love to add it to the others.
ETA: A wonderful reader, Nani Christina, suggested two more great quotes I just had to add...

“Becoming a writer is not a “career decision” like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don’t choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you’re not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days.”

- Paul Auster

"Hell man, I know very well you didn't come to me only to want to become a writer, and after all what do I know about it except you've got to stick to it with the energy of a benny addict."

- Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Thanks for the suggestions!


-Kelly

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