Do quotes from famous authors motivate, or just remind us how far away from our goals we actually are?
The question came to me during a visit to Disney World earlier this week. Walt was the king of inspirational quotes. As I toured the Parks, noticing I was the only one in shorts (56 degrees in February is a tropical climate for a Canadian), the idea began to germinate. Later, back at the condo, I descended into that labyrinth called Google, researching the premise over a bottle of Australian Shiraz. As suspected, the websites, articles and blogs were plentiful – hundreds, if not thousands of quips on the craft.
I’ve always had my favourites, adages dating back to Mark Twain, others more current. If you’ve read my prior posts, you know I am an admirer of Stephen King. King’s part memoir, part master-class book ‘On Writing’ is a masterpiece, highly recommended for any aspiring, or struggling writer. Quote-worthy passages leap from the pages of the book, and I’ve included a couple below.
I came across several noteworthy quotes from various authors during my search, many that struck a chord and resonated with me. I also noticed a common thread, something I’ve often ignored, most likely out of guilt – Quantity.
Yes – Quantity.
Forget quality – Quantity. Exercise the ‘writing muscles’ – every day.
None of this was new to me. But I needed reminding.
So I compiled my list, all the while contemplating my personal struggle with quantity and commitment. Compiling the list was cathartic, but also reminded me that:
• brainstorming my blog – is not writing
• researching my blog – is not writing
• note-taking for my blog – is not writing
• writing my blog – is not writing
Let me explain.
Blogging is writing, I don’t mean to detract from the art form. Like any writing platform, writing well takes talent, perseverance, and blogging is no different. For me, blogging is a relatively new venture, one I enjoy and plan on expanding and developing. Exercising my writing muscles through this process is valuable, but it’s also a distraction from my true passion – writing fiction.
And too many projects on the back burner, do not a writer make.
The time spent writing this blog was not time wasted. Not at all. I’ve come away better for the experience. Revisiting old writing quotes, embracing new ones, sharpened my focus, and added clarity. Sprinkle in some guilt, and the recipe is complete.
So I leave you with a few of my favourites.
Not just for writers, but for anyone with a passion to create. I hope my list leaves you with a spark of inspiration, or at the very least, the swift kick in the arse, called motivation.
Quotes – To Write By
I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.
If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
E. L. Doctorow
Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work.
I try to leave out the parts that people skip.
Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.
E. L. Doctorow
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.
I hate writing. I love having written.
It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.
Every word written is a victory against death.
Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.
Beware of advice—even this.
Don’t be a writer, be writing.
And perhaps my favourite quote of all, although not specific to writing:
“I drink to make other people more interesting.”
As always, I welcome your comments.
Until next time,