Quotes can be a powerful source of wisdom for aspiring writers. My desk at home is littered with post-it notes and scraps of paper filled with insightful words from writers and leaders alike.
One of the most effective strategies for achieving success in any particular field is to learn from the successes and failures of those who have already walked the path. Quotes from experienced masters can provide a unique look into their own missteps and follies, and can help you to avoid making the same mistakes.
In this article, I highlight fifteen of my favorite tips that have helped to inspire and influence me along the writing path. I hope you enjoy this collection, and don't forget to share your thoughts in the comment section!
“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” - Neil Gaiman
“Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.” - Anne Lamott
"Good novels are produced by people who voluntarily isolate themselves, and go deep, and report from the depths on what they find. They do put what they find in a form that’s communally accessible, communally shareable, but not at the production end. What makes a good novel, apart from the skill of the writer, is how true it is to the individual subjectivity. People talk about 'finding your voice': Well, that’s what it is. You’re finding your own individual voice, not a group voice." - Jonathan Franzen
"The dedicated life is worth living. You must give with your whole heart." - Annie Dillard
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” - George Orwell
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
"The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better."
- Stephen King
"Write. Write every day, even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you’ll get. But don’t write in my universe, or Tolkien’s, or the Marvel universe, or the Star Trek universe, or any other borrowed background. Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings. Using someone else’s world is the lazy way out. If you don’t exercise those 'literary muscles,' you’ll never develop them." - George R.R. Martin
“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” - Jack London
"For the first month or so of writing a book I try to get the creative side of the mind to get it down there on the page. Later on I get the analytical side to come along and chop the work into decent lengths, edit it and knock it into the right kind of shape. Everyone finds their own way of doing things. I certainly don't sit down and plan a book out before I write it. There's a phrase I use called 'The Valley Full of Clouds.' Writing a novel is as if you are going off on a journey across a valley. The valley is full of mist, but you can see the top of a tree here and the top of another tree over there. And with any luck you can see the other side of the valley. But you cannot see down into the mist. Nevertheless, you head for the first tree. At this stage in the book, I know a little about how I want to start. I know some of the things that I want to do on the way. I think I know how I want it to end. This is enough. The thing now is to get as much down as possible. If necessary, I will write the ending fairly early on in the process. Now that ending may not turn out to be the real ending by the time that I have finished. But I will write down now what I think the conclusion of the book is going to be. It's all a technique, not to get over writer's block, but to get 15,000 or 20,000 words of text under my belt. When you've got that text down, then you can work on it. Then you start giving yourself ideas." - Terry Pratchett
“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” - Samuel Johnson
"One description of the writing process I find apropos is that you start with a block of stone. Only you don't see the stone; you see a horse within the stone. As a sculptor, you would carve it out. A writer has to claw at it with his fingernails. It crumbles and fights all the way. You work and work on a leg and just can't get it right. Sometimes, you chew the leg off. Sometimes, you chew your own leg off. Sometimes, you sweat on the leg, hoping the salt will smooth it into the desired shape and contour. Then, reviewers come along and say they like or dislike the horse. Or critics say a horse is not what you intended at all. Alternatively, writing fiction is telling imaginative lies. You put them on paper and somebody pays you for it. Both these ideas are equally true. And if you encompass both, you can be a writer. But you also want people to like it and you hope that what you've written is more than just tripe with a sauce on it." - Robert Jordan
"...I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything." - Ernest Hemingway
"If writing isn’t the most important thing in your life, quit now. If the writing process isn’t more important than being published, quit now. If money matters to you, quit now. If you feel incomplete and dissatisfied when you are not writing, you should stick with it. For therapeutic reasons if for nothing else." - Terry Brooks
"Like any art, probably, the more experience you have with it, the more the horizon of what being really good is - the more it recedes - which you could say is an important part of my education as a writer. If I’m not aware of some deficits, I’m not going to be working hard to try to overcome them. Like any kind of infinitely rich art, or any infinitely rich medium, like language, the possibilities for improvement are infinite and so are the possibilities for screwing up and ceasing to be good in the ways you want to be good." - David Foster Wallace
Well, there it is. I hope you enjoyed these quotes and I hope they provided some strong inspiration for your own creative ventures!
What are some of your favorite quotes or tips? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!