Tag Archives: quotes

How Writing Feeds Your Inspiration

writing for inspiration

Ahhhh, inspiration. That moment when the rest of the world falls away and all that’s left is you and the perfect sequence of words, like the unveiling of a mystery, the solving of a puzzle, everything all of the sudden just fits.

While these moments exist, and thank goodness that they do, most professional writers will confirm that inspiration isn’t enough to finish a project or to carry an idea to its fruition. You have to also sit down and slog through some pretty ugly stuff when everything you write looks awkward and stupid and you’re considering becoming a waitress or a used car salesman because this artist thing is just too hard.

But sitting down and slogging through the mud is actually what opens you up to moments of inspiration. It’s creating the space for it to happen and working through it when it isn’t present that allows for inspiration’s sudden arrival. Kind of like a lightning beacon – by showing up, sitting down, scribbling out some words that may look like total nonsense, you’re basically holding up a metal rod in the middle of the storm, saying “Okay, come and hit me.”

Many novice writers carry the erroneous notion that in order to write, they must first be inspired. Researcher David Boice found that writers who write on a daily basis have creative thoughts twice as often as those who only write when they feel like writing. William Faulkner said of inspiration: “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”

It’s true. The writing process is the road to inspiration. Take this quote from Joyce Carol Oates: “The first sentence can’t be written until the last sentence is written.” It might sound like a Zen koan. But it basically means you start out not knowing where you’re going or even where you are. By the time you get to the end, you can finally see the beginning. But without going through the steps to get to the end, you’ll never even see the beginning and the rest of the story will never unfold.

Louis L’Amour advises us to “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Many writers describe the feeling they get when they’re writing as something transcendental. It has the ability to heal, to comfort, to transform and yes, to inspire. Catherine Drinker Bowen explains one of the great pleasures of writing, “For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word”.

Neil Gaiman explains the feeling of fulfillment that writing can bring when he says, “Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days, nothing else matters.” Anne Frank said, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Anais Nin defines the pleasure of writing: “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” And Joss Whedon tells us that “I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”

Joan Didion uses writing as an exploration of her own mind, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Toni Morrison advises us to use writing as creative fulfillment when she says, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Some writers warn that writing comes with a huge price. Flannery O’Conner explains that, “Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.” And George Orwell admits that, “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 was not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” (via WritersDigest)

The demon, the muse or whatever it is that drives writers to write is also what makes it so painful when they don’t. Though writing does have a price, what about the price of not writing? Paulo Coelho poetically explains that, “Tears are words that need to be written.” (via Goodreads) Mitch Albom says, “Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say,” and Maya Angelou warns, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Writing not only inspires better writing, but having the courage to write inspires you to live more freely and courageously.

Kurt Vonnegut tells us, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” (via BuzzFeed) And Ray Bradbury begs us, “Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper” and “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. (via WritersDigest)

And Franz Kafka instructs us, “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” (via Goodreads) And Natalie Goldberg wants us to be brutally honest with ourselves in the writing process, “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” (via BuzzFeed)

The writing process takes you out of the mundane and throws you into the creative realm. It’s there that lightning most often strikes. So if you want to be inspired, don’t wait, write.

25 Inspiring Quotes about Writing

quotes about writing

Writing may be one of the most rewarding – and most frustrating – activities in the history of mankind. Few other callings result in as much crumpled paper, snapped pencils, frayed nerves and all-nighters. Writing has also given us some of the most inspirational quotes imaginable. Here, we’ve collected 25 quotes to give you the motivation and inspiration you need to finish your project, even if it takes all night.

Getting Started

Every writer has dealt with writer’s block and new writers can find the process of simply starting to be difficult. Since beginning can be difficult for even seasoned writers, much advice has been given on how to take the plunge and begin telling your story.

  • “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” (Ernest Hemingway)
  • “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” (Stephen King)
  • “The first draft of anything is shit.” (Ernest Hemingway)
  • “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” (Mark Twain)
  • “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” (Lewis Carroll)
  • “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.” (Les Brown)

As we can see, the best authors in the world understand that beginning to write is as simple as it is difficult – one must simply begin.

Choosing the Right Words

Another common theme in writing is the eternal struggle to find just the right words and phrases. Many times writers throw around a number of words, searching for the one that fits like a missing puzzle piece. Rough drafts were made to be reworked and this is where a writer’s vocabulary and talent really come into play. Writing a scene requires the same dexterity and skilled hand as paining a picture, creating a sculpture or any other creative endeavor.

  • “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” (Mark Twain)
  • “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” (Jack Kerouac)
  • “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” (Anton Chekhov)
  • “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” (Aldous Huxley)
  • “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.” (Elmore Leonard)
  • “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.” (Justice Brandeis)

On Inspiration

Creative inspiration is perhaps one of the most ephemeral things in the world. Inspiration can come from anywhere and creativity is, at best, a fickle mistress. This interest in creativity and the creative process has been with man since the earliest times. The ancient Greeks had dozens of Muses dedicated to various forms of the arts and science. The Muses are goddesses representing different arts and sciences in Greek mythology. They are the daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus.

  • Kalliope – the muse of epic poetry
  • Euterpe – the muse of music and lyric poetry
  • Erato – the muse of lyric/love poetry
  • Melpomene – the muse of tragedy
  • Thalia – the muse of comedy

Although established Muses of the past are rarely referred to now, their spirit lives on. Today, the creative process may be seen differently, but the inspiration and frustration remain the same.

  • “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” (Saul Bellow)
  • “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” (Scott Adams)
  • “Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.” (Pyotr Tchaikovsky)
  • “Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources” (Albert Einstein)
  • “Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time.” (Leonard Bernstein)
  • “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” (William Wordsworth)
  • “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” (Ray Bradbury)
  • “I don’t know where my ideas come from, but I know where they come to. They come to my desk, and if I’m not there, they go away again.” (Philip Pullman)

On the Writing Life

It’s often said that artists are a special breed, and writers are no different. The writing life isn’t for everyone and, for those who feel the calling, taking the journey is sometimes difficult. Writers have discussed their methods, their inspirations and their styles, but here we get a glimpse into what truly drives them to follow the writer’s life.

  • “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” (Ray Bradbury)
  • “I know some people might think it odd – unworthy even – for me to have written a cookbook, but I make no apologies. The U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins thought I had demeaned myself by writing poetry for Hallmark Cards, but I am the people’s poet so I write for the people.” (Maya Angelou)
  • “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” (Ernest Hemingway)
  • “I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.” (Isaac Asimov)
  • “You fail only if you stop writing.” (Ray Bradbury)