Writerly Quotes

DSC_0352If you believe in something, you must will it through, because everything gets in the way. Everyone tries to steer the ship off course. –Glen A. Larson

I experiment, and my wastebaskets are always very full of failed experiments. –Kurt Vonnegut

It’s awkward when a reporter wants to take a picture of me at work in my ‘office.’ I have no office. I’ve written 75 books. From my bed. –Meg Cabot

Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass. –Anton Chekhov

“Envy hurts. It hurts every cell in the body. It causes faces to twist into ugliness and good thoughts to scurry and hide in its brilliant light – like they – good thoughts – are vermin and envy is the can of Raid. Envy exaggerates everything – makes small things big and little things small. I’m experiencing envy right now and I want it gone. I won’t banish it though. I’ll invite it in – poor frightened thing that it truly is – I’ll make it tea and say ‘there, there’ to it. ‘This will pass, dear Envy. You know it is from lack and not abundance that you rage so.’ I tell it to call friends, and to remember what it feels like when I write something good and true. I remind it of why we write, we two, for envy is just my creative flame running amok. I don’t want to call friends though. They will think I am petty and mean. I am this minute. I am petty and small with this green grief. Maybe it isn’t the time to call friends who aren’t feeling this awfulness and perhaps never do. Maybe I am small and mean. I wish I had my Anne Lamott book with me instead of it being in storage with all my other worry fetishes. She for sure understands jealousy and envy and the dark hour of petty rage. I will conjure her up and have tea with her. She’ll say ‘there, there’.” –Jan Morrison

A writer needs three things—experience, observation and imagination—any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others. –William Faulkner

You can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page. –Jodie Piccoult

At the end of the day if you told me, ”You will never get published,” I would still have written the books. –Brandon Sanderson

“As artists we MUST create. We were born to. It is a tragic life for many, having to live with hopes and dreams that may never happen. So WHY do we do it? It’s our life’s blood. It saves our sanity … it is our escape. To create worlds we can lose ourselves in if need be. A world so much finer than the one we breathe in. ANYTHING is possible, ANYONE can be a hero, ANYONE can be rich, famous, successful, murderous, angry, nasty, vindictive. And it’s all in our minds ready to be woven into a magnificent piece of fabric.” –Michael DiGesu

Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.  –Erin Keane

“If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed quickly, to trap them before they escape.”  –Ray Bradbury

Prose should be a long intimacy between strangers with no direct appeal to what both may have known. It should slowly appeal to feelings unexpressed. It should in the end draw tears out of the stone.  –Henry Green

I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get me going, rather than retreat.  –Sylvester Stallone

“Novels are never about what they are about; that is, there is always deeper, or more general, significance. The author may not be aware of this til he is pretty far along with it. A novel’s whole pattern is rarely apparent at the outset of writing, or even at the end; that is when the writer finds out what a novel is about, and the job becomes one of understanding and deepening or sharpening what is already written. That is finding the theme.” –Diane Johnson

“…the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat….the writer’s duty, is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.” –William Faulkner

As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it til I have it impending in me, grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall. –Virginia Woolf

“Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way–and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity.”  –Sylvia Plath

“I’d say for young writers who take the craft seriously, who aren’t worried about stardom, the climate is still very good. Because editors are always looking for a good story, with really compelling characters and writers who use their own voice. Not Terry McMillan’s voice, not Anne Tyler’s voice, their own voice. Unfortunately, there are a lot of young writers who are scared, and they don’t trust their own instincts. That’s what they need to do. And they need to stop having these visions of grandeur, and just be honest and write a good story.” –Terry McMillan

Because, if one is writing novels today, concentrating on the beauty of the prose is right up there with concentrating on your semi-colons, for wasted effort.  –Neil Gaiman

Sit in a chair and write. Ignore this thing they call writer’s block. Doctors don’t get doctor’s block; your mechanic doesn’t get mechanic’s block. If you want to write great stories, learn to write when you don’t feel like it. You have to write it poorly before you can write it well. So just be willing to write bad stories in order to learn to become better. –Brandon Sanderson

“Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious. Plenty of things we now consider prestigious were anything but at first. Jazz comes to mind—though almost any established art form would do. So just do what you like, and let prestige take care of itself. Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.” –Paul Graham

Trying to finish this book so I can whip out another and another so that maybe I can take a break next year and actually see sunlight, but I bet that won’t happen because not writing would be like not having a head. –Amy Saia

“Writing a book is an endurance contest and a war fought against yourself, because writing is beastly hard work which one would just as soon not do.” –Tom Clancy

“We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’: but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience.” –C.S. Lewis

Style is a very simple matter: it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. –Virginia Woolf

2 thoughts on “Writerly Quotes

    1. karenjonesgowen Post author

      Glad you’re okay with it, Jan. I didn’t wait for your answer, I just copied and pasted before I got distracted and then would forget or have to go look for it again. (I can be very disorganized.) Love this paragraph you wrote! It makes a very inspiring writerly quote 🙂


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