• Your Inspirational Writing Quote

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 73 comments
    Nov
    9

    Discussion questions: If a struggling writer sought a list of inspirational writing quotes and you were on that list, what would be your quote? And in what way(s) does your quote shed light on your approach to your own work? Is there a favorite inspirational writing quote you turn to, or try to keep in mind, when you’re struggling? Let us know in the comments.

     

    Every now and then, before a difficult writing session or, most often, when I’m looking for a topic to write about in this space, I’ll google something like inspirational writing quotes and see what greets me.

    I know many of you will do the same, and some of you (hi, Marcia; and Eddie; and D.) have even printed out your favorite quotes and hung them above your writing space, to gaze at thoughtfully whenever you need some extra creative energy and good vibes.

    Today I poked around at some of these lists, and on one, David Mamet makes an appearance. Naturally (I think?), I suddenly wondered what it might look like if Mamet were replaced with Duhr. If I ever became a famous writer and made one of these lists of inspirational writing quotations… what would my quote be?

     

    I made a quick list. All of them are dumb. Until I come up with something better, I’ll just lean on the one I wrote for my WBN Q&A: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Don’t be afraid to accept unsolicited help. And don’t be afraid to offer help. So many writers are competitive with other writers, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

     

    What about you? If you saw your name on a list of inspirational writing quotations, what would you hope would be your inspirational words? The specific piece of writing advice attributed to you for the rest of your life and beyond?

    Start by making a list of options. What do you do, or what do you believe, that you think would benefit other writers?

    First, think about your approach to writing: What makes it unique to you? From where do you draw your inspiration, or your ideas? How do you get yourself in the mood to write? How do you keep going if you fall out of the mood?

    Or, try a different angle: What does writing mean to you? In what ways does it affect your life? What would happen to you if it were taken away?

    Write down these thoughts, see what comes out.

    Step two: Choose the best!

    Step three: Leave it in a comment below. Along with some details about how you came to it.

     

    And read the inspirational quotes from your fellow WriteByNighters. Maybe something in here will work for you! Give an upvote to the ones you like.

    I’d also be curious to hear some of your favorite quotes from famous writers, the words you turn to when you need a boost.

    Come on, don’t pretend you never need a boost. We’re all friends here.

     

    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

     

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    SusanHadrienne leslieKevinWJohnDavidHans De Leo Recent comment authors
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    Jeanne Julian
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    Jeanne Julian

    I’ll have to work on the daunting task of coming up with my own source of pithy inspiration! But, when I do come across words that give me “a boost” when I need it, or that express what I feel about the art and craft of writing, I save them on my web site for future reference: http://www.jeannejulian.com/quotations-for-writers.html

    frances hill
    Guest
    frances hill

    I have a journal for these special words and phrases.

    frances hill
    Guest
    frances hill

    I’ve often said, “We aren’t born with instructions, guarantees or expiration dates stamped on our butts; live the life you are given, forget the mistakes, enjoy the rewards, and the end will come when it’s supposed to.”
    This was my reply to the question, “How long do they give you?”

    Kimberly Glunz
    Guest
    Kimberly Glunz

    I was told that a good way to become inspired is to hang out with the people who would be your “ideal audience” Also, a friend gave me an eraser with this quote from “Macbeth,” “…to leave no rubs nor blotches in the work.” Sadly this quote refers to murder, but my friend meant well!!

    Raymundo
    Guest

    I think the struggling comes down to “why am I doing this?” At least it does for me and so I assume for many others. So I would pass on to the young writer seeking the old guru’s wisdom (pretending I am such) this: “Drama can provide inspiration and example for our seeking. And when drama moves us to tears and hurrahs, it becomes the measure of what we experience thereafter.” So we write fiction because telling stories is so innate to humans. We have to validate our life experience, or at least our life’s desire. For myself, maybe I’ll… Read more »

    david lemke
    Guest
    david lemke

    Yesterday I made a comment about regret: “Life is for living, not regretting.” A reader asked if she can quote me! Years ago I collect thousands of quotes, 93 pages. I inserted some of my own that I just dug up. Should I have left them buried? Now; Get off your knees. Worship neither the memories of the past, nor the promised savior of the future. There is only now. Be in it. Rev. David W. Lemke (1950-) The Universe; For some reason it’s easy to accept timelessness, but accepting spacelessness is another matter. The universe is one pointed. Where… Read more »

    Susan
    Guest
    Susan

    I like all of your quotes, Rev. Especially I like “There isn’t any anywhere” and “truly wise, I listen” Listening is very important.

    Kary
    Guest
    Kary

    Know no matter how many projects you finish, you are always learning and growing. Leave room for the growth, and celebrate it when it blooms.

    David M Inverso
    Guest
    David M Inverso

    My Famous Writing Quote: “The authors of zero-word stories are too numerous to name.” How I came to that: I long resented advice like “I discovered the meaning of the sea while meditating upon a dewdrop.” My logical next question would be, “Okay so what is the meaning of the sea?” I can see the guru’s face pinch up. “Do the work.” Another example? My saxophone teacher once asked me to sound “more soaring.” “How?” She replied as if it was obvious, “Play it until it sounds soaring.” In other words, “Do the work.” Favorite quotes from favorite authors: “Don’t… Read more »

    Jerry Schwartz
    Guest
    Jerry Schwartz

    “Write the most exciting scene first. Then write about how your characters got there. Then write about what happened afterwards. Finally, see if you really need to keep that most exciting scene.”

    Not very inspirational, perhaps, but that seems to work for me.

    Here’s a quote that helps me:

    E. M. Forster: The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then queen died of grief is a plot.

    frances hill
    Guest
    frances hill

    Yes! It is what I do then have a blast trying to get the characters situated and the scenes leading up to the event.

    Elissa Malcohn
    Guest
    Elissa Malcohn

    My mantra, which I’ve used for decades, is this: “Nothing is wasted.” That applies to writing and to life in general. Getting rejected? Not wasted. Blocked? Not wasted. Going through upheaval? Not wasted. Unable to stop writing crap? Not wasted. Bad decisions? Not wasted. Everything is potentially useful. If not now, then later on. If not in the way you expect, then in a way you don’t expect. Keep on keepin’ on. Until five years ago, that had been my only mantra. Getting cancer and going through treatment, including chemo, added a second: “Honor your temperament.” Or, in Popeye-speak, “I… Read more »

    frances hill
    Guest
    frances hill

    Keep swinging Elissa, we need more of your spirit.

    Susan
    Guest
    Susan

    This is scary. What’s next? Burning books? Thank you for fighting.

    Mike
    Guest
    Mike

    David Sedaris signed one of his books to me with this inscription, which I think is pretty solid advice: “Write every day.” I struggle to follow this advice, but when I do I feel very proud of myself. Because I am working on manuscripts that deal with very heavy, intense subject matter, David Duhr suggested amending that to “Write every day you can.” And when I am tackling the heavy stuff, I do keep that suggestion in mind. I work a full-time job so writing happens in the moments I can carve out for myself around that. But even when… Read more »

    Bobbie
    Guest

    Faulkner wrote that he waited for inspiration to strike to write and that he was very lucky that it struck every morning at 9 AM. Which means you write at a set time no matter what. Inspiration will come as you put words on the paper.

    Jerry Schwartz
    Guest
    Jerry Schwartz

    One of the members of my writers group says he gets up every morning at 4:30 to write.

    Mike
    Guest
    Mike

    …I also am trying to get out of the habit of saying “I need to write today” or “I have to write today” and instead reminding myself: “I want to write today.” A small but important psychological shift.

    Beth
    Guest
    Beth

    Mike – thanks for the reminder to choose my words and attitude! I go to the gym every day and I always say (and feel!) that working out is a “get to”:not a “have to.” I am going to start saying the same for writing – today I do not have to write, today I get to write!! Lucky me!

    snowglobe
    Guest

    So what if you’re not JK Rowling or CS Lewis. You can’t be without their heart, soul & personal schema. But you have your own trinity and more important, your own tale to tell. Tell it.

    Bobbie
    Guest

    “Start at the beginning and continue until you get to the end.” If you do that with everything, not only will you complete each task, but you will get to where you want to be. The other one which I have posted on my bulletin board is “Never Give Up” When you give up, you are defeated. Defeat is something I don’t take well, so I never give up, I may concede a point, but that is about it. Another pithy saying on that same paper is, “No matter what you write, it is accomplished one word at a time.… Read more »

    Susan
    Guest
    Susan

    Light a candle. Keep it in the window, especially if there is a storm outside. If a story knocks on your door, raw, dazed or confused, weak and hungry, the only decent thing to do is to bring her inside. Give her tea and broth. Sit with her. Ask her where she came from and what has happened to her. Ask her where she wants to go. Listen well. Take good notes. When she is ready to go out into the world, she will. She may leave a mess in her wake, but you will be glad. The idea, here,… Read more »

    Susan
    Guest
    Susan

    I just read my email and someone by coincidence had forwarded me this quote, and I include it here, for writers. (Mary Oliver is a great poet)

    WORD FOR THE DAY

    Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

    Mary Oliver

    Hans De Leo
    Guest
    Hans De Leo

    One of my favorites is from Thomas Alva Edison who said, “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” In my experience, you never get to the perspiration without the motivation. I have plenty of ideas for plot lines. Until I’m motivated to turn an idea into a story, all I have is ideas. That’s okay for me because i can still escape into my own little fantasy world where I can make the story up as I go along. If I don’t like the result, no problem, just go back and make it up again a little differently. I’ve said… Read more »

    JohnDavid
    Guest
    JohnDavid

    Teddy Roosevelt a boy who was literally suffocating to death because of his horrendous asthma, reshaped his body with weight lifting, rowing, and boxing. In 1912 he was shot in the chest. The bullet penetrated his thick chest, steel glass case, and 20 page speech. Bullet lodged inches from his heart, he survived. This is a man who suffered deep dark depression his entire life. Within 24 hours of each other his wife and mother died. He could never bring himself to talk about his wife, to his baby daughter Alice, the memory was too painful. And from this man… Read more »

    KevinW
    Guest
    KevinW

    “Nobody cares until you make them”…not just for writing, for anything. You have to give enough or show enough for people to care…




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