• Your Inspirational Writing Quote

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 75 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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    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

    I have a journal for these special words and phrases.

    frances hill

    John Pope on Vice, Vice is a creature so evil a mean, that to be hated is to be seen; But seen too oft, once familiar with her face, one doth first endure, then pity, then embrace,

    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?”

    frances hill

    Thank you. it is yours to share.

    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

    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

    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 »

    david lemke

    Thanks David. I liked “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.” good advice.

    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

    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

    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 »

    David M Inverso

    Two other cookie fortunes I’ve kept:
    “The fortune you seek is in another cookie.”
    “You should presently be able to deal from a full deck.”

    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

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

    Jerry Schwartz

    Yes, it’s my own description of how I work. The exciting scene is almost always rather raunchy, and it usually goes away completely or is reduced to the closing of the bedroom door. I keep thinking I’m writing porn, but it always turns into a love story.

    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

    Keep swinging Elissa, we need more of your spirit.

    Susan

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

    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

    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.

    Bobbie

    If you get into the habit of writing every day you will find that inspiration comes to you the minute you start to write. For NaNoWriMo, I am writing my third book in a series that started off as a stand alone book. My guy gave me the premise and I scrapped what I had started 6K words into it and started all over. I currently have 26K words of the book written while writing 2 hours a day other than Thursday where I wrote for 3 hours. (Broken up in to 30 min segments) It’s all about sitting down… Read more »

    Jerry Schwartz

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

    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

    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

    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

    “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

    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 »

    KevinW

    Kurt Vonnegut said something to the effect of “you can only tell what happened. You can’t know why it happened”

    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

    KevinW

    I love that quote. In a way, it’s not depressing…reality is reality…are clear magnifying glasses or rose-colored ones preferable?

    Susan

    Clear is better. Can’t recall who said it, but something I read a long time ago, I think Eastern religion, if you only know light you’re only half living. We need dark. Ideally we balance the two, I think?

    adrienne leslie

    Agree! Life on earth hands over lots of boxes of darkness. Even if everyone you ever met has adored you (!?) there are still floods, fire & disease–it’s nice to have survived the darkness and written about it;)

    Susan

    That’s how I look without my makeup

    SusanH

    The prefrontal cortex?

    SusanH

    Oh, thank you. I am having one of those nights at work where I don’t have to work at all, very rare, so time to indulge in little tidbits. I found the penguin story, but it was missing the first page for some reason. No matter. I liked it anyhow. I want to read the whole book. Her cover art is just like the cover on Cold Comfort Farm, so I’m expecting that same sharp humor, only more modern. Thanks for the reference! Museum of the Weird, What an excellent idea for a collection of short storyish writings

    KevinW

    Wasn’t that a song by The Bobby Fuller Four? “I Fought the F***ing Darkness and the Darkness Won”?

    Susan

    Just came to me that maybe it’s possible that a “box full of darkness” has another meaning–not just something painful or depressing or scary, but in the sense of a blank page. If I am a friend to a poet, maybe I would give him a book of poetry as a gift, or maybe I would give him a notebook and a pen.. or an empty box, inviting him to bring something to light, create something out of nothing.?? Does that sound plausible?

    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 »

    Hans De Leo

    The Duluth Novelists that I mentioned before is one way. We meet about once a month. Another way is the Writer’s Studio, a group I go to on a weekly basis. I find that being around other writers not only inspires me, but motivates me to keep working on my writing projects.

    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 »

    JohnDavid

    Write to inspire, persuade, to make a difference. You see an injustice don’t wait for the other guy, YOU step up and be the game changer. For me, the excuses are gone. I am too tired. I don’t have the time. I feel rested. I have more time to write than at any other point in my life. I do or I don’t because I allow the distractions to take away my focus. I am also enjoy, for a short time, doing nothing. I am giving myself the luxury. After my first four years out of a 35 year career,… Read more »

    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…

    KevinW

    I write more poetry than anything else. I try to get an arresting image or line in at the beginning…intrigue the reader ASAP…but not just in a “dig-me-I’m-clever” way. If they ask “What the hell?” they may read on, but you have to get them invested in a voice or a character quickly. I’m a firm believer that you hold or lose most readers in the first paragraph or section. I started a poem once with a guy saying goodbye to all his friends left in the world, gathered around a table. Why is he saying goodbye? He seems vulnerable,… Read more »

    dennis boisvert

    I was at Brown University book store and in one section there a group of writers talking and one guy said something funny when I was standing by looking at a poster and I laughed at what I heard. They started talking to me as they were in a pleasant mood. Wanted to know what books and subjects I liked and so on. I told them I like American Civil War and they wanted to know if I was writing about that time. I told them one I started but stopped and said I’m awful at writing. One said write… Read more »




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