Quotations To Help You Write More

Here are some quotations from writers – and those who know about writing – that help me stay focused when doubts start to surface. I shall be adding regularly to the list and will post on the blog when the page is updated.

If any of these quotations inspire you – or even rub you up the wrong way – let me know in the comments.

Quotations Recently Added

…like every beginner, I thought you could beat, pummel, and thrash an idea into existence. Under such treatment, of course, any decent idea folds up its paws, turns on its back, fixes its eyes on eternity, and dies.
Ray Bradbury – Zen in the Art of Writing

Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he tales the path in order eventually to become that path himself.
Henry Miller – The Wisdom of the Heart

…one of the most frequent problems in writing, especially creative writing, is making things worse instead of better when you revise.
Peter Elbow – Writing With Power

A writing voice is not a collection of ticks and tricks. A writing voice is a vehicle for communication. The individuality of a voice emerges not by falling in love with your own facility but by learning to move past it.
Julia Cameron – The Right to Write

Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.
Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird

Previous Quotations

So much writing time and energy is spent not writing: wondering, worrying, crossing out, having second, third, and fourth thoughts.
Peter Elbow – Writing With Power

Trying to write things right usually means writing very slowly and carefully. Long pauses between sentences and paragraphs to make sure of your bearings. This often leads to overwriting and overintricacy.
Peter Elbow – Writing With Power

Thus, odd as it may sound, trying to write it right the first time not only increases the danger of dull writing, it also increases the danger of writing that is cloyingly precious.
Peter Elbow – Writing With Power

The need to get things right first time, I suspect, is often the culprit in the case of people who want to write but don’t do so or stop doing so.
Peter Elbow – Writing With Power

Often I put down things which I do not understand myself, secure in the knowledge that later they will become clear and meaningful to me. I have faith in the man who is writing, who is myself, the writer.
Henry Miller – The Wisdom of the Heart

When people undertake writing, it is often not with the agenda of writing but with the agenda of ‘becoming a writer’. We have an incredible amount of mystery, mystique, and pure bunk around exactly what the phrase means.
Julia Cameron – The Right to Write

It is one of the ironies of the writing life that much of what we write in passing, casually, later seems to hold up just as well as the pieces we slaved over, convinced of their worth and dignity.
Julia Cameron – The Right to Write

If we let ourselves write, we also come to know what we’re doing. We know how to write because writing is what we do. The more we do it, the more specifically and regularly we do it, the easier it is to do: like hammering a nail, you get the swing of it when you do it more often than Sunday repairs.
Julia Cameron – The Right to Write

We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you’ll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you’ve already been in. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words – not just any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues.
Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird

In the beginning, when you’re first starting out, there are a million reasons not to write, to give up. That is why it is of extreme importance to make a commitment to finishing sections and stories, to driving through to the finish. The discouraging voices will hound you – “This is all piffle,” they will say, and they may be right. What you are doing may just be practice. But this is how you are going to get better, and there is no point in practicing if you don’t finish.
Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird

It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is the sitting down to write.
Steven Pressfield – The War of Art

How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip, and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do the thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to? Resistance defeats us.
Steven Pressfield – The War of Art

The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality. Tomorrow morning the critic will be gone, but the writer will still be there facing the blank page. Nothing matters but that he keep working.
Steven Pressfield – The War of Art

If I don’t write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind – they begin to seem like characters instead of real people. The tale’s narrative cutting edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the the story’s plot and pace. Worst of all, the excitement of spinning something new begins to fade. The work starts to feel like work, and for most writers that is the smooch of death.
Stephen King – On Writing

But as we write, as we become engrossed in the act of writing, the ego fades, and there is only the steady succession of word upon word, of language creating itself before our eyes. We go back to revise, and there is the not-so great first paragraph. We cut it out, throw it away. But before we can toss it, we must let it have its say. [This] is part of the process that leads us to the good stuff.
John Lee – Writing from the Body

We are aware that the underbelly of writing is nonwriting. Journal writing seems to be about thought, about rumination and self-analysis. One of the rules of writing practice is, Don’t think.
Natalie Goldberg – Wild Mind

Writing practice teaches us to accept, connect with and write from first thoughts. But there is a gap. Monkey mind is still busy trying to get control. A tape loop is running around in our heads, saying, “I shouldn’t write this,” even while we are writing.
Natalie Goldberg – Wild Mind

If you keep your creator hand moving, the editor can’t catch up with it and lock it.
Natalie Goldberg – Wild Mind

Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
Ray Bradbury – Zen in the Art of Writing

…if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is – excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches. God knows it’d be better for his health.
Ray Bradbury – Zen in the Art of Writing

Think of writing practice as loving arms you come to illogically and incoherently.
Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones

I often wonder if all the writers who are alcoholics drink a lot because they aren’t writing or are having trouble writing. It’s not because they are writers that they are drinking, but because they are writers who are not writing.
Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones

There is freedom in being a writer and writing. It is fulfilling your function. I used to think freedom meant doing whatever you want. It means knowing who you are, what you are supposed to be doing on this earth, and then simply doing it.
Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones

Now, let’s understand – writers do like money; artists, contrary to popular belief, do like to eat. It’s only that money isn’t the driving force. I feel very rich when I have time to write and very poor when I get a regular paycheck and no time to work at my real work.
Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones

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