Writing is both the most accessible and the most daunting of all creative efforts. All it takes to write is an idea, and you don’t have to ask permission to write a book. However, the life of a writer is lived under the tyranny of the blank page. Writers must construct an entire living, breathing world within the pages of their books, and each book starts with a vast canvas of nothing. If you’re feeling discouraged in your literary efforts, lean on the words of your fellow writers. Below are some great motivational quotes to get you started.
1. “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”
Some superhuman writers, in the eyes of novelist Anne Lamott, may be able to sit down and churn out a perfectly polished book in the first sitting. Everyone else, however, must begin with a raw, unpolished first draft. You can’t be afraid to put down imperfect prose when you’re first beginning a new book. Once you have a basic foundation to build upon, you can begin the process of turning your raw words into a polished gem.
2. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
Richard Bach recognized that writing is unlike most other professions. No one posts a job opening for a novelist; you can’t find an entry-level position pasting together pulp novels and eventually be promoted to a position as a best-selling author. To find success as a writer, you must be devoted to your craft and continue writing even when no one wants to buy your work.
3. “The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You’re there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see—every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties.”
As a writer, Graham Greene recognized that everything that he saw could be useful. From the odd way that a dinner guest holds his cup to the quirky wordplay of a talented public speaker, even the smallest details can serve as inspiration. You must constantly observe how people act to create more vivid characters.
4. “Don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”
According to Pearl S. Buck, if you simply sit around and wait for inspiration to strike, you’ll never be able to write anything of substance. Inspiration is a vague and nebulous idea, and it’s notoriously hard to create inspiration on demand. Instead, train yourself to write no matter what mood you may be in. The act of writing will spark deeper, more substantive inspiration than idle daydreams.
5. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
Anton Chekhov illustrates one of the foremost rules of writing: Show, don’t tell. It’s not enough for a writer to clinically describe the events of her novel. Writers must paint a picture with their words and create a unique moment in time. The way that you write a scene can infuse it with meaning and emotion that transcends the bare words that you use. Chekov’s example, with just a few words, suggests a melancholy, forgotten environment rendered beautiful for a fleeting moment by the transitory touch of moonlight.
6. “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
This quote, spoken by W. Somerset Maugham, illustrates the first truth of writing: It is an inherently personal experience. There is no right or wrong way to approach writing. Instead, you must find the process and experience that works for you.