Here are some quotes that I hope will inspire you or strike a chord and get you writing. My favorite is from Khaled Housseni, an Afghan-born American novelist and physician.
“You cannot write with the conviction that your work will be one day reprinted to the extent that Hemingway’s has, but you ought to write in such a fashion that if it is, you will have no apologies for it. Nothing is as destructive to a writer’s self-esteem– and, ultimately, his ability– as shoddy craftsmanship. Make it well. Whether or not the thing lasts, the care you have taken will be the measure not only of your talent, but of your integrity.”
-William Ruehlmann in Stalking the Feature Story
“People write because they need to. People make stories for themselves and others, to fight the bomb, or the war, or to fix the broken places. We electric socket into the full power of our Selves by scribbling into our interior hinterlands.”
-Andy Couturier in Writing Open the Mind
“Writing is an act of hope. It is a means of carving order from chaos, of challenging one’s own beliefs and assumptions, of facing the world with eyes and heart wide open. Through writing, we declare a personal identity amid faceless anonymity. We find purpose and beauty and meaning even when the rational mind argues that none of these exist. Writing, therefore, is an act of courage….. ”
–Jack Heffron inThe Writer’s Idea Book
I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.
I write a lot of material that I know I’ll throw away. It’s just part of the process. I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one.
I know many writers who try to hit a set word count every day, but for me, time spent inside a fictional world tends to be a better measure of a productive writing day. I think I’m fairly generative as a writer, I can produce a lot of words, but volume is not the best metric for me. It’s more a question of, did I write for four or five hours of focused time, when I did not leave my desk, didn’t find some distraction to take me out of the world of the story? Was I able to stay put and commit to putting words down on the page, without deciding mid-sentence that it’s more important to check my email, or “research” some question online, or clean out the science fair projects in the back for my freezer?
I’ve decided that the trick is just to keep after it for several hours, regardless of your own vacillating assessment of how the writing is going. Showing up and staying present is a good writing day.
I write while walking on a treadmill. I started this practice when I was working on Drop Dead Healthy, and read all these studies about the dangers of the sedentary life. Sitting is alarmingly bad for you. One doctor told me that “sitting is the new smoking.” So I bought a treadmill and put my computer on top of it. It took me about 1,200 miles to write my book. I kind of love it — it keeps me awake, for one thing.
“The hardest trade in the world is the writing of straight, honest prose about human beings.”
“The important thing is to work everyday. I work from about seven until about noon.Then I go fishing or swimming – whatever I want.”
“The best way is always to stop when you’re going good. If you do that, you’ll never be stuck. And don’t worry about it until you start to write again the next day. That way your subconscious will be working on it all the time. But if you worry about it, your brain will get tired even before you start to write again the next day.”
“But work everyday. No matter what happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail.”
“Watch people, observe, try to put yourself in somebody else’s head. If two men argue, don’t just think about who is right and who is wrong. Think what both their sides are.”
“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”
“…never talk about a story you are working on. If you tell it, you never write it. You spoil the freshness, you mouth it up and get rid of it in the telling instead of the writing. Writers should work alone, then talk.”