Quotes to Inspire Writers

inkwellFor the A – Z Blogging Challenge… Q is for Quotes

These are quotes from 70 Days of Sweat Writing Challenge. The challenge ended but the blog is still up.

The story is not in the plot but in the telling. – Ursula K. LeGuin

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them. – Charles Caleb Colton

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. – Howard Aiken

There is no perfect time to write. There’s only now. – Barbara Kingsolver

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything. – Virginia Woolf

People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it. – Harlan Ellison

The main rule of a writer is never to pity your manuscript. If you see something is no good, throw it away and begin again. – Isaac Bashivas Singer

Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard. – Daphne du Maurier

If you haven’t got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you’ll only have to throw away the first three pages. – William Campbell Gault

Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world. – Tom Clancy

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. Tom Clancy

Crossing out is an art that is, perhaps, even more difficult than writing. It requires the sharpest eye to decide what is superfluous and must be removed. And it requires ruthlessness toward yourself — the greatest ruthlessness and self-sacrifice. You must know how to sacrifice parts in the name of the whole. – Yevgeny Zamyatin

Dreaming and hoping won’t produce a piece of work; only writing, rewriting and rewriting (if necessary)–a devoted translation of thoughts and dreams into words on paper–will result in a story. – Roberta Gellis

… it isn’t ‘talent’ which is so important to a writer… The most important assets, I believe, are those associated with mules – a kind of stubbornness to get it done, to make it right, to make it better, and grit – not to quit – and even narrowness of purpose, a euphemism for being almost dumbly dedicated to accomplishing something. – Theodore Weesner

The search for a story is a matter of slowly, calmly, carefully, tentatively coaxing a hidden set of somethings into visibility. Those somethings may be characters, places, situations, scenes, hopes, fears – the unseen possibilities of drama that are lurking in what we know. – Stephen Koch

You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something, perhaps something silly. It simply doesn’t matter what… In five or ten minutes the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over. – Leonard S. Bernstein

Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time…The wait is simply too long. – Leonard S. Bernstein

It’s an adrenaline surge rushing through your body. You have this spark of an idea that keeps threatening to burst into flames and you have to get the words out on paper to match this emotion or picture in your head. After this comes the work of cleaning up the mess you made. – Janet West

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. – C.S. Lewis

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C.S. Lewis

I don’t think it’s very useful to open wide the door for young artists; the ones who break down the door are more interesting. – Paul Schrader

I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die. – Isaac Asimov

The best stories don’t come from “good vs. bad” but from “good vs. good. – Leo Tolstoy

The two most engaging powers of an author are, to make new things familiar, and familiar things new. – Samuel Johnson

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it. – Mark Twain

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. – Albert Einstein

Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination. – Janet Frame

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. – Isaac Asimov

All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail. That is the talisman, the formula, the command of right-about-face which turns us from failure to success. – Dorothea Brande

I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are. – Milton Berle

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile. – Robert Cormier

If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there. – Anton Chekhov

There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose. – Kin Hubbard

Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you. Listen to yourself. If you are excited by what you are writing, you have a much better chance of putting that excitement over to a reader. – Robin McKinley

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up. – Anne Lamott

Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly. There will be many mistakes, many things to take out and others that need to be added. You just aren’t always going to make the right decision. – Anne Lamott

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads. – Erica Jong

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

In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters. – Stephen King

You don’t find time to write. You make time. It’s my job. – Nora Roberts

The best stories start with change… A stranger arrives in town… The first leaves of autumn fall… Notice in your reading of popular novels how often the moment of change is the moment the book begins… Think deeply about how to open your story with this crucial time of threatening change. – Jack M. Bickham

First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about. Revision is working with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to re-form it… The first draft of a book is the most uncertain – where you need the guts, the ability to accept the imperfect until it is better. – Bernard Malamud

Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind. – Catherine Drinker Bowen

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. – Ray Bradbury

You fail only if you stop writing. – Ray Bradbury

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. – Charles Peguy

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. – Anna Quindlen

I have written a great many stories but I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances. – John Steinbeck

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate and I eliminate the possibility of ever finishing. – John Steinbeck

To know what you want to say is not the best condition for writing a novel. Novels go happiest when you discover something you did not know you knew: an insight into one of your opaque characters, a metaphor that startles you… a truth… that used to elude you. – Norman Mailer

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any. – Orson Scott Card

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. – John Irving

“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. – James Michener

I get a fine warm feeling when I’m doing well, but that pleasure is pretty much negated by the pain of getting started each day. Let’s face it, writing is hell. – William Styron

Everything stinks till it’s finished. – Dr. Seuss

Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it. – Michael Crichton

Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth… But amusing? Never. – Edna Ferber

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. – Henry David Thoreau

It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway

My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip. – Elmore Leonard

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. – Sir William Churchill

The novel may stimulate you to think. It may satisfy your aesthetic sense. It may arouse your moral emotions. But if it does not entertain you it is a bad novel. – W. Somerset Maugham

The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean. – Robert Louis Stevenson

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

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