Writers Musing

The aspiring writers who follow my blah-g often ask what I’m inspired by. The answer? A lot. Inspiration comes in any number of forms and if you pay close enough attention, most mundane aspects of life can spark the idea for a new character or a dramatic scene. But looking around with intention takes some effort and isn’t always a quick fix for when you need to feel inspired fast. The most fool-proof method in finding that creative spark when you need it is to simply pick up a book and read. Read everything: fiction, nonfiction, poetry. Read interesting blog posts and the inside of book jackets; read technical descriptions on boxes and definitions of scientific words. It will all inform you and may lead to something valuable in the next piece you’re working on. When I need that extra oomph on a particularly dry creative day, I turn to my journal where I store quotes by writers I respect. This always does the trick. And more often than not, these quotes are just as much about life itself than the act of writing alone. I’m sharing 25 ah-mazing quotes on writing, creativity and life by writers I love in the hope some of these words will help you the next time you sit down to create.

 

1. Anne Lamott from her book Bird by Bird

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

 2. Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth

“Try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.”

3. Donna Tartt, Pullitzer Prize winner and author of The Goldfinch

“Storytelling and elegant style don’t always go hand in hand.”

4. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, acclaimed novelist, short story writer and speaker

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

5. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things 

“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.”

6. Tina Fey, comedy writer and author of Bossy Pants

fey

7. Kurt Vonnegut, author of Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five

Vonnegut

“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

8. Diane Ackerman, author and poet

ackerman

9. Judy Blume, author of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. 

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”

10. Joan Didion, author and essayist

didion

11. Amy Poehler, comedy writer and author of Yes Please

Poehler

12. Anne Lamott from her book Bird by Bird

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

13. Nora Ephron, journalist, essayist, playwright, novelist, all around ah-mazing creative force 

Ephron

14. Jim Thompson, author and screenwriter 

“There is only one plot—things are not what they seem.”

15. James Baldwin, author of Giavanni’s Room

baldwin

16. Joan Didion from her book Slouching Towards Bethlehem 

“I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.”

17. Ray Bradbury, American science-fiction author 

“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”

18. Alice Munro, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 

munro

19. Raymond Carver, poet and novelist, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

“You’ve got to work with your mistakes until they look intended.”

20. Mark Twain, American humorist and writer 

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Ha!

21. Margaret Atwood, acclaimed novelist, poet, essayist and environmental activist 

atwood

Atwood

22. Zadie Smith

“Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.”

23. Jeanette Winterson, author of Written on the Body and Gut Symmetries 

“If you continually write and read yourself as a fiction, you can change what’s crushing you.”

24. Ray Bradbury

“To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that god ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

25. Nora Ephron, Wellesley College Commencement Address, 1996

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find som away to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”

The last two may have left me with a tear in one eye. Leave me with some of your favorite quotes on writing and life below in the comments.

 

TTYW,

Lisi

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