Inspirational Quotations

On my google page I collect Quote of the Day and in my email, a Daily Inspirational quote.

Because I’m still nose to grindstone with my manuscript-due-June 16, I went looking for some inspirational quotations about writing to get me through. (Yes yes I do realize that by doing this my nose has strayed from the grindstone)

Here are some Writing Quotations I found (Diane comments are in red):

There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith (a vein??)

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 (More blood?)

So often is the virgin sheet of paper more real than what one has to say, and so often one regrets having marred it. ~Harold Acton, Memoirs of an Aesthete, 1948 (Do you mean if I write, I might be wrecking some paper?)

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~Charles Peguy (These quotes are not exactly inspiring me…)

Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself. ~Franz Kafka (Okay. Now I’m depressed)

Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~Joseph Heller (Aw, thanks, Joe. That’s reassuring)

Loafing is the most productive part of a writer’s life. ~James Norman Hall (I know! I know!)

There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes. ~William Makepeace Thackeray (This is more like it)

Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains; God composes, why shouldn’t we? ~Audra Foveo-Alba (I’ve been asking myself this very question)

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth (Sigh!)

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov (I’m reassured)

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov (This is what I aspire to do!)

As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out. ~Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson, 1894 (Um…isn’t this contradicting Chekhov?)

When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.
~Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) (Oh)

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it. ~Jules Renard, “Diary,” February 1895 (That’s the ticket!)

Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word, consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well. THomas Jefferson (oh oh. Now we’re getting into mechanics)

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space. ~Orson Scott Card (What’s a metaphor?)

A metaphor is like a simile. ~Author Unknown (Oh)

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ~Mark Twain (But what if you can’t think of lightning, because lightning bug is stuck in your mind…)

A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one. ~Baltasar Gracián (Isn’t it, though!)

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. ~Henry David Thoreau (Yipes)

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing” (Uh…very helpful, Bill)

The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson (Yeah!)

Writer’s block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite. ~Laurie Wordholt (I’m starting to get nervous again)

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. ~James Michener (Me, too, Jimmy)

Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. ~Sholem Asch (Ain’t that the truth!)

The ablest writer is only a gardener first, and then a cook… ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827 (Haven’t I told you before that I am so-not-a-cook? I’m even worse at gardening)

My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin. ~Karl Kraus (Karl, there is no need to get crude)

It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write. ~Sinclair Lewis
(That’s me! I’m going to write.)

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart… William Wordsworth
(Ah, now this is inspiration!)

Writing only leads to more writing. ~ Colette
(one can hope!)

Tell us your favorite writing quote!

Come visit my website for a Sneak Peek of Scandalizing the Ton, my October 2008 release. Enter my contest, too!

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14 years ago

cThese are some of my favorites:

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.
~ Robert Cromier

Literature is all, or mostly, about sex.
– Anthony Burgess

All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

-I need to write to be happy.
Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts says ‘you can fix anything but a blank page’ and that’s absolutely true. If you spend a day writing crap, you can fix it. If you spend a day not writing, you’ve got nothing.
—Eve Ackerman

Don’t look at your feet to see if you’re doing it right. Just dance!
—Anne Lamott

love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.
—Peter De Vries

Happy Writing,
Debora Hosey

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Debora, those are GREAT. I especially like you don’t have to get it right the first time!!!!

14 years ago

Here is one of my favorites :

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
‘Tis strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when paper – even a rag like this – ,
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that’s his.
George Gordon, Lord Byron

NOW! From the sublime to the ridiculous! Or at least the crude. But, hey sometimes Stephen King says it best!

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Louisa! I love both of those, and who could be more different than Byron and Stephen King!

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Um…I need to do some “shoveling” so I’ll probably pop in later….it is too tempting to check every time a message comes in!

14 years ago

In case you are wondering who Louisa is – it’s me – Doglady! My CP said I have to let Louisa come to life so here she is. Of course I will ALWAYS be Doglady to my friends!

Louisa is coming out to say that The Raven’s Heart (aka The Hedgehog), my Daphne finalist manuscript has finaled in the Royal Ascot!! I am living in a dream world right now and I have no idea what it is going to be like to wake up. I am just enjoying the ride!

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

To heck with coming back later! Congratulations on the Royal Ascot final, Pam…er doglady..er Louisa… er O Doggie One!

That is beyond fantastic!!! You are going to have such a wonderful conference, all with perfect shoes for each outfit!!!!

Melinda Hammond
14 years ago

What a wonderful way to procrastinate! I was looking for some excuse not to get started on mynext chapter and you have all provided it! Well done girls (and I am saving all the quotes for future use…………)

Julia Justiss
Julia Justiss
14 years ago

Your post was timely, Diane, for one who has only one chapter finished on the book that must be completed this summer. Thanks for the inspiration.

My favorite writing quote, for one who stalls because what she just wrote is total garbage and will certainly end what vestiges of a writing career she still possesses, is Nora Robert’s encouragement to turn off the editor and just get the scene done:

You can’t fix a blank page.

Megan Frampton
14 years ago

All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things. Bobby Knight (1940 – )

and my favorite:

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955)

Eva S
14 years ago

What wonderful quotations! I’m no author, just an avid reader but I could agree with most of them if I change writing to reading! As “I need to read to be happy”!

Ps. Have you got my address yet, I think I’ve sent it three times.

Susan Wilbanks
14 years ago

Like others, I like Nora’s “I can fix anything but a blank page.” But my absolute favorite is from Jenny Crusie:

“Do not let reality push you around, do not be sensible and kill your own dreams, and for the love of God do not let people who are only guessing about what’s going to happen next tell you that you’re a fool for believing in yourself and your stories.”

Cara King
14 years ago

I love so many of your quotes, Diane! Here are some of my favorites which you didn’t list already:

“If there is no dull determined effort, there will be no brilliant achievement.” — Hsun-tzu

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” — Richard Bach

“A journey of a thousand miles begins and ends with one step.” — Lao-Tsu

“You have to surrender to the act of writing, give up to it, and trust that if you have anything, it will discover it for you.” — E.L. Doctorow


Cara King
14 years ago

Oh, and congrats to Louisa/Pam/Doglady!!!!

Cara/Queen Geek/Cat Mom

14 years ago

“Writing is both mask and unveiling.” -E.B. White

“Words are only painted fire; a book is the fire itself.” -Mark Twain

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Aren’t these quotes the greatest? I guess writers write memorable things about writing.

Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll be quoting each other!!!

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

Big congrats, Pamela/Louisa!! You are definitely on a roll. Big things can happen when chickens cross roads. :))

I’ve so enjoyed reading all the writing quotes! They’re too true. I have a magnet on my fridge that has a pic of Jane Austen and a quote, “A large income is the best recipe for happiness I have ever heard of.” Not ABOUT writing, but from a writer!

14 years ago

These quotes are fantastic and on a day like today, when a dear friend is pondering the seemingly futility of it all, they could not be more ‘spot on’!

The quotes are marvelous. Your comments fabulous and now that Checkov has said it so clearly, I can finally get ‘show don’t tell’.
I did get that right – didn’t I?

And last, but not least, Louisa a more beautiful name could not have been penned for our own Doglady! Congrats on placing in the Royal Ascot! You really do ROCK!

14 years ago

Thank you all for the congratulations! I have learned so much about writing historical romance from all of you! I am really looking forward to San Francisco!! Now if I can just figure out a way to check one suitcase just for shoes!

These really are some great quotes and they are all going in my little inspirational quotes notebook for future reference.

LOVE that Jane Austen quote, Amanda! Perfect!

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

These quotes are fantastic and on a day like today, when a dear friend is pondering the seemingly futility of it all, they could not be more ‘spot on’!

Aw, Santa! I’m so glad the quotes came at the right time. I hate to hear anyone who loves writing to get discouraged. I’m sure we could all recount lots of stories of friends who almost gave up, but didn’t and wound up with wonderful contracts.

The quotes are marvelous. Your comments fabulous and now that Checkov has said it so clearly, I can finally get ‘show don’t tell’.
I did get that right – didn’t I?

Hey, that’s right! Checkov put it very well. I must remember that. And thank you for the nice words about MY words!

14 years ago

Here’s one from Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound:

“I love being a writer, it’s just the writing that’s hard.”

Also, my favorite essay on writing style is Mark Twain’s Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses, which (in the course of bashing Cooper so thoroughly that I can never read him and take him seriously) also dispenses a lot of great writing advice.


14 years ago

And, BTW, more congrats Dog-, I mean Pam-, I mean Louisa.


Michelle Styles
14 years ago

Coming in late to give a couple of my faves.
It is not so very hard to judge a story after it is written, but, after many years to start a story still scares me to death. I will go as far as to say that the writer who is not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium –John Steinbeck

…as for the amteur his difficulty is that his work, once on the page, hardens as cement hardens and can no more be changed. When he has learned to change it, to consider it in this light, to consider in that, to hold the subject warm in his affection at the same time that his mind appraises the form — when that time comes, he is no longer an amateur. — Edith Ronald Mirrielees

As for myself, I often find opening veins and bleeding on the page is easier during revisions…

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Hey, we had two Harlequin Historical visitors. Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Julia Justiss and Michelle Styles!!

Todd I love this: “I love being a writer, it’s just the writing that’s hard.”

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