10 Encouraging Quotes for Writers

birdIt is not unusual for me to doubt myself as I write. There’s this voice in the back of my head that says things like “This is crap. That was a stupid line. You have no idea what you’re doing.” And when I’m trying to write a novel, this little voice can get quite annoying (yes, that’s an understatement.) In cases like these, it always helps me to turn to a few of my favorite quotes on writing. It seems silly. I feel like the things they are saying are things that I should always have tucked away in the back of my mind. But for some reason I always need to re-read them, as if to affirm they actually exist and that I must not be the only one who needs to hear them, or no one would have bothered writing the advice down in the first place. Right?

So on the off chance that any of my readers might need a little inspiration today, especially in the middle of this ROW80 round, I’d like to share the quotes that make me take a deep breath and just write.

1. “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”  -Sylvia Plath

2. “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  -Toni Morrison

3. “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”  -James Michener

4. “Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” -Gene Fowler

5.”Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”  -George Orwell

6. “Just don’t get caught in the endless cycle of guilt, avoidance, and pressure. When it is your time to write, write.” -Natalie Goldberg

7. “Here ‘You are boring’ as distant white laundry flapping in the breeze. Eventually it will dry up and someone miles away will fold it and take it in. Meanwhile you will continue to write.” -Natalie Goldberg

8. “E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.” – Anne Lamott

9. “Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.” – Anne Lamott

10. “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.” – Anne Lamott

You may have noticed that the last three are all from the same author, and this is because her writing book, “Bird by Bird,” is by my side constantly. Ok well not constantly, but I do refer to it often. If you enjoyed Anne Lamott’s above quotes, I highly recommend that you read the whole book. I promise it won’t be a waste of your time.

And now you guys! I would love to hear which quotes on writing you find to be most inspiring. What words kick you in the butt and make you sit down and write no matter what? I look forward to hearing them.

~Nicole

ROW80 Goals Check-in …………………

  • Blog three times a week: Good so far!
  • Read and Comment on 5 other blogs daily: Eh, I haven’t done this every day. But I’ll work on that right after I’m done with this!
  • Work on my Novel in Progress 1 hour a day: Done! I’ve also been playing with Scrivener. Does that count? 🙂
  • Finish my MFA apps by their deadlines: Good here! Far ahead of schedule actually.
  • Complete Mass Effect 2 by March 6th: Well on my way. I have a feeling I won’t be having any trouble with this one.
  • Wake up earlier: Still not as early as I’d like, but earlier, yes.

See you all on Sunday!

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14 thoughts on “10 Encouraging Quotes for Writers

  1. Love that George Orwell quote and I’ve never read anything by Anne Lamott, but those quotes do make me want to check her writing out. Looks like your doing great on the goals. Way to go!

  2. Hi Nicole, Thank you for this post. I shall tuck away #1 and #10 as an encouragement in the future! I also like your # 2 goal and think I will try to do the same. I just started my blog on wordpress about a week ago, so it can’t hurt to read other’s stuff and truly act as a fellow writer in community all hoping to produce the best flow of words of which we are capable. You asked for inspiring quotes. Well, this is a marvelous exchange of insults between William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway that might not be exactly inspiring, but we’ll … I’m sure you’ll see why I like it :

    “He has never been known to use a word that might send the
    reader to the dictionary.”
    ~ William Faulkner about Ernest Hemingway

    In response to Faulker:
    “Does he really think big emotions come from
    big words?”
    ~ Ernest Hemingway

    Well, thanks again for the encouraging quotes. Happy writing =)

    • Thank you for sharing! I love that exchange, and I had not heard it before. And yes, commenting is a really great habit to get into. It helps build the community, which is why we’re all here, yes? 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by!

  3. I just loved this quote…. “E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.” – Anne Lamott.. it is really the best advice there is.. thank you so much. Inspired!

    • Ah, goal achieved! I think that quote is my favorite one up there too. Definitely useful when novel-writing. Sometimes the big picture can get so overwhelming. I’m really glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Bird by Bird is a great read. Anne Lamott provides some of the best writing quotes out there, along with Stephen King in his memoir On Writing. Here are some of my favorites, and I hope you like them, too:

    “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

    “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

    “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

    “Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.”

  5. Great post.

    One of my favorite quotes is:
    ‎”It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Ernest Hemingway

    I love reading inspiring quotes from writers. It’s a good reminder of why we do what we do—write.

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