Writing Words of Wisdom

Share this post:

Ah! The life of a writer. Up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea. Write it up quickly before the muse leaves, spend a few minutes cleaning it up in the morning, and send the masterpiece off to an eager, waiting publisher. Spend the rest of the day partying with friends and waiting for the next great idea.

As if! Writing is hard, lonely work. Sometimes the ideas don’t come. Sometimes they come, but are half-baked and you don’t know how to finish cooking them. Write and re-write and re-write and still the prose is awkward. Rejection after rejection. It is easy to get discouraged. So you turn to other writers for inspiration.

You sit at your computer or blank sheet of paper and don’t know where to begin or how to start.

The scariest moment is always just before you start.  – Stephen King

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. – Jack London

Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you against a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank sheet of paper wins. – Neil Gaiman

A blank sheet of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God. – Sidney Sheldon

You can fix anything but a blank sheet of paper. – Nora Roberts

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. – William Faulkner

After reading the above wise words, you force yourself to start to write. The germ of an idea grows and you write and write and write. You have a brilliant start and, even maybe, a middle, but you get stuck. Where to go next? How to finish?

You fail only if you stop writing. – Ray Bradbury

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E. L. Doctorow

The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it. – Ernest Hemingway

Don’t get it right – get it WRITTEN! – Lee Child

You finally finish the first draft and feel pretty good about it. You set it aside for a couple of days. When you pull it out again and read it, you are dismayed. It is rubbish.

The first draft of anything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway

One always had a better book in mind than one can manage to get on paper. – Michael Cunningham

It’s perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly. – C. J. Cherryh

You begin to edit and slowly gain confidence the piece can be salvaged. You edit, rewrite and rewrite. You search for the right words, the right turn of phrase. You erase entire paragraphs.

Easy reading is damn hard writing. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

You struggle and question your entire process and approach.

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges. – Ernest Hemingway

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. – W. Somerset Maugham

You finally finish, research publishers, create a phenomenal cover letter and submit your “baby”. You wait and wait. At last, a response. Rejection. You submit again and again. Rejection after rejection. Sometimes no response at all.

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil. – Isaac Asimov

I used to save all my rejection slips because I told myself, one day I’m going to autograph them and auction them. And then I lost the box. – James Lee Burke

Rejected pieces aren’t failures. Unwritten pieces are. – Greg Daugherty

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it to “the editor who can appreciate my work” and it has simply come back stamped “Not at this address”. Just keep looking for the right address. – Barbara Kingsolver

And you wonder why you keep trying.

I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotion. – James A. Michener

For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word. – Catherine Drinker Bowen

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story within you. – Maya Angelou

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. – Neil Gaiman

Do you have any writer quotes of inspiration (or frustration) to add?

Quotes from writers to inspire, make you laugh or to commiserate with through the entire writing process #writing #quotes

(Note: this post was originally published on Destinations Detours and Dreams.)

Share this post:


  1. “Write drunk, edit sober.” I don’t remember who said that, but it always makes me laugh. Not that I’m advocating that approach, but there is something about trying to lower your inhibitions in order to get something on the page.

    September 14, 2018
    • Donna Janke said:

      Deb, I’ve heard that too but also cannot remember who said it. If it speaks to lowering inhibitions (or silencing the inner editor) while getting the first draft down, it may make sense, presuming anything you’ve written makes sense when reread sober.

      September 16, 2018
  2. Jeri said:

    Starting really is the hardest part of most every endeavor. I’m embracing the mantra, “Just do the thing!” in many areas of my life these days.

    September 14, 2018
    • Donna Janke said:

      Jeri, That’s a good mantra. It is easy to fret and overthink something or let doubt get in the way and stop us from doing things.

      September 16, 2018
  3. Ken Dowell said:

    I like the Doctorow quote about only being able to drive as far as your headlights can see. I can imagine the next sentence being something about not having a map.

    September 16, 2018
  4. Donna Janke said:

    Ken, and then that leads to the debate over when to just write and see what unfolds or spend time outlining in advance. I waver between the two, but lean towards the outline approach.

    September 16, 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.