At some point during our writing career, we all need inspiration. Or a kick in the pants. Or just plain old good advice. Writing is a solitary endeavor, but we aren’t alone! The best and the brightest have struggled too. I’m grateful they took the time to share their wisdom and experience. Here are my top ten favorite quotes for writers, and a few thoughts on why I like them.
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” – Neil Gaiman
This one reminds me that feedback is essential during the editing process, but ultimately the vision for my story belongs to me.
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov
Nothing explains show vs. tell like this line!
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” – Stephen King
Reading helps us recognize great writing. The practice of writing makes us better writers.
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck
The more I write, the more the ideas flow. Handling them sometimes means creating a file and telling the new ones to wait their turn.
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London
It’s doing the work that drives inspiration, not the other way around.
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”- Nathaniel Hawthorne
Well, good. If he thought it was hard, I don’t have to feel so bad.
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Pratchett
This idea gives me such freedom. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to get the story out of my head and onto the paper. The rest will come later.
“When writers die, they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation.” – Jorge Luis Borges
This makes me laugh. But it also speaks to the part of me that wants to leave something behind on the planet. It’s awe-inspiring and a bit staggering to think my words will outlive me.
“If you don’t think there is magic in writing, you probably won’t write anything magical.” – Terry Brooks
Creating art feels like magic. Sometimes, I can’t believe I’ve actually written entire books!
“The hardest part about writing a novel is finishing it.” – Ernest Hemingway
I never thought I could finish writing a book. It’s what stopped me from trying at all for at least a decade.
When you hit a block, or feel insecure about your work, or simply want to feel like you are part of a tribe, refer back to this handy list. I do it all the time!