Seeds of Inspiration

This page is a regularly updated bulletin board of inspiring quotes from writers, new and old. Hopefully it will help to give you a kick-start on those days when your work space appears to you as the sheer personification of evil and you just can’t seem to find it in you to approach the blank white page with the requisite bright-eyed, bushy-tailed mien of the happy, naive, disillusioned writer you used to be. Cheers!

+ “I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I’m capable of writing.” — Ann Patchett, The Getaway Car

+ “We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”  — Henry James

+The Knickerbocker Rule: “Whatever your purpose, the best remedy for fear of writing, any kind of writing, is the Knickerbocker Rule: a** to chair. If you’re afraid you can’t write, the answer is to write. Every sentence you construct adds weight to the balance pan. If you’re afraid of what other people will think of your efforts, don’t show them until you write your way out of your fear. If writing a book is impossible, write a chapter. If writing a chapter is impossible, write a page. If writing a paragraph is impossible, write a sentence. If writing even a sentence is impossible, write a word and teach yourself everything there is to know about that word and then write another, connected word and see where their connection leads. A page a day is a book a year.” — Richard Rhodes, from How To Write: Advice and Reflections

+ “The process of writing a novel is like taking a journey by boat. You have to continually set yourself on course. If you get distracted or allow yourself to drift, you will never make it to the destination. It’s not like highly defined train tracks or a highway; this is a path you are creating, discovering. The journey is your narrative. Keep to it and there will be a tale to be told.” — Walter Mosley, from This Year You Write Your Novel

+”If your hero wanted what you want badly and didn’t get it, if your hero encountered obstacle after obstacle and you figured out ways for him to overcome them one by one, you’d be plotting not only from character but at least partially from your own store of feeling, from some yearning that could become the foundation of a story you could write with fervour. In our not-yet-acknowledged secret garden lie the seeds of some of our best not-yet-written stories.” — Sol Stein, from How To Grow a Novel

+ “I write the way I do because (not though) I am a Catholic.” — Flannery O’Connor

+ “You’re not writing to make money. You should go into real estate if you want to make money. And you’re not writing for awards either, or for attention or critical success. You’re writing because you know that there is nobody else who can tell that story.” — Walter Mosley

+ “With me a story usually begins with a single idea or memory or mental picture. The writing of the story is simply a matter of working up to that moment, to explain why it happened or what caused it to follow.” — William Faulkner

+ “A writer writes what other people only think.” — Sol Stein

+ “. . . [T]he question is, what do you want in your life? If you want to be happy, my suggestion is to mate yourself to the act of writing and try your best to write the best books that you can write. And after that, hope that it will lead you to some success. And it probably will lead you to some success, although it may not be the kind of success you’re after.” — Walter Mosley


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