By: David P. Cantrell
It is very presumptuous of me to write about writing. I don’t make a living as a writer, I’d starve if I tried to, but I love (and hate) the process.
I love the rush that comes with ideas unfolding like a map to reveal the path within. Sometimes the words come faster than I can write and they evaporate. Just a wisp of the thought lingers behind to taunt me—I was great, but you weren’t good enough to catch me. And that brings me to what I hate about writing–the self-doubt: I’m not smart enough, people will laugh at me, who cares what I have to say.
My musing got me wondering what others have had to say about the process, which led me to a Goodreads list of 795 quotes about writing. Some of my favorites are set forth below. I hope you enjoy them.
- The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. ― Terry Pratchett
- 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer Write.
Write more. Write even more. Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to. Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say. Write when you don’t.
Write every day. Keep writing. ― Brian Clark
- You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. ― Octavia E. Butler
- Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right. ― Amy Joy
- I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. ― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
- There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is in front of his senses at the moment of writing… I am a recording instrument… I do not presume to impose “story” “plot” “continuity”… Insofar as I succeed in Direct recording of certain areas of psychic process I may have limited function… I am not an entertainer… ― William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
- Sometimes I scare myself at how easily I slip inside my mind and live vicariously through these characters. ― Teresa Mummert
- There are three secrets to writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham
- Rules such as “Write what you know,” and “Show, don’t tell,” while doubtlessly grounded in good sense, can be ignored with impunity by any novelist nimble enough to get away with it. There is, in fact, only one rule in writing fiction: Whatever works, works. ― Tom Robbins
- You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. ― Jodi Picoul
- The only ‘ironclad rules’ in writing fiction are the laws of physics and the principles of grammar, and even those can be bent. ― Val Kovalin
- But in the wake of ‘Bullet,’ all the guys wanted to know was, ‘How’s it doing? How’s it selling?’ How to tell them I didn’t give a flying fuck how it was doing in the marketplace, that what I cared about was how it was doing in the reader’s heart? ― Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales
- Don’t over edit. Don’t second-guess yourself, or your ideas. Just write. Write every day, and keep at it. Don’t get discouraged with the rejections. Tape them up on your office wall, to remind you of all the hard work you put in when you finally start getting published! It’s all about persistence and passion. And have fun with it. Don’t forget to have fun. ― Heather Grace Stewart
- I’ve discovered that sometimes writing badly can eventually lead to something better. Not writing at all leads to nothing. ― Anna Quindlen
- The writing begins when you’ve finished. Only then do you know what you’re trying to say.” ― Samuel Langhorne Clemens
You will find all 795 quotes here.