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Inspire Better Writing: 5 Wise Quotations

on June 5, 2013

They say that writing is one of the loneliest jobs in the world. Certainly, staring at the blank page, surrounded only by the thoughts and feelings of your characters, it can seem that way. Take solace in the fact that this is a trail that has been traveled by some of the greats. Look at that tree over there; it has Charles Dickens’ initials carved into the soft bark. And over there; a cane Stephen King left behind as he floated off to a horrific, otherworldly dimension. Writing may be a task done in solitude, but that doesn’t mean a writer is alone. These 5 inspirational quotes that will motivate you come from some of the best writers of all time and should inspire you to move forward fearlessly.

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

It’s easy to feel a little lost when you step up to the blank page. You think back to those short stories you wrote in high school and wonder why it is you ever thought writing was fun. Now, consumed as you are with character and plot, you realize that good writing is hard work. There’s nothing wrong with that, though, is there? Listen to that demon within you – it wants to be heard.

The first draft of anything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway

Never one to mince words, Hemingway’s famous quote belongs on every writer’s wall. A first draft is just that. Get the story out and don’t concern yourself about how dreadful it is. You can take as many future drafts as you like to carve it into something worth reading.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Sylvia Plath

One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is to see publication and success as carrots to inspire their prose. There’s nothing wrong with having those goals, but they should be separate from the creative process. If you’ve ever let a rejection letter (or a hundred) stop you from moving forward, try to re-discover the confidence and imagination that inspired you to write in the first place. Success has as much to do with timing and luck as it does with talent and skill. 

No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. – Robert Frost

Bad fiction is filled with predictability. If your story is simply following the beats of a formula, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your work. Some genre fiction must adhere to certain rules, but there is enormous room for experimentation and surprise even within the most limited frameworks. Keep surprising yourself and your readers will thank you.

Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised. – John Steinbeck

Stephen King once called his 1200 page novel The Stand his “own personal Vietnam.” It can be difficult to realize that your story is going to require hundreds of pages when you’re only able to squeeze out a page or two a day. Take your time, treat each page as its own victory, and you’ll get there. Remember, you’re traveling a path that many others have successfully traversed. Take their triumph as inspiration.



2 Responses to “Inspire Better Writing: 5 Wise Quotations”

  1. Patti Hale says:

    Great inspiration, Denise, from some of the greats! Frost and Hemingway are two of my favorites! I particularly like what Hemingway once said about writers needing to have a built in sh*t detector in order to write well and, of course, Frost’s the Path Less Taken has always spoken to me as well.

  2. Hey Denise,

    Oh my gosh, that didn’t seem like inspiration to me but then again I don’t consider myself a write. I’ve never written a book but I think it would be a fabulous thing to experience. If only I had the mind of someone who could actually do that. I guess if your thoughts never seem to come to light then staring at that blank page could be a horrible experience.

    I would think though that the finished product would be so worth it. But here I go again, I have no idea what’s involved so I can only say from someone who loves to read. We would be so lost without the written word.


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