5. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” –Ernest Hemingway
This is a great quote for those days when writing feels hard and, because it feels hard, you start to question the entire edifice. Maybe you aren’t meant to be a writer, if writing is hard for you. Writing is easy for good writers, right? Well, some people think Mr. Hemingway was a pretty good writer…
I don’t think writing has to be a masochistic exercise of bleeding all over typewriter (or Scrivener, or whatever), but if it is, that is not unusual. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a normal feeling for writers of every skill level. So open up that vein, but don’t quit!
4. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” –Stephen King
I know, I know. The last thing you need is another thing to fail at, another area where you aren’t doing what you need to. But sorry, I am going with Mr. King on this one. Reading is so integral to writing. It’s important on the business side. You need to know where your book fits into the market in order to pitch it, to market it, to sell it. And so you need to know the market, which is just a fancy way of saying read! But it’s also important on the craft side. Reading is some of the best writing education you can give yourself, especially critical reading. Look at how other authors create tension or dialogue that sparks right off the page. Look at how other authors make you check to see if the book is ever going to end and skim yet another section. Learn what you love and what you don’t. And for me, reading is the ultimate form of inspiration. Reading a good book makes my inner writer yearn to be set free and create. It replenishes the wells of creativity that I drain during writing.
3. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” –Ernest Hemingway
I am a perfectionist. That isn’t always a bad thing. Striving for perfection can be a way to rise to the next level, to overcome obstacles. But for my own mental health, I have to remember that perfection is an illusion. There is always something else to learn, always some way that I could be better. I am still an apprentice. But! So is everyone else. We are all apprentices. There is no need to castigate myself for failure to achieve mastery, because that is impossible. I will keep learning, I will keep striving, and I will take pleasure in the process, not despair.
2. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” –Ray Bradbury
Oh, this one. Cuts me right to the core with its truthiness. Writing as an industry is so, so hard. I’ve written for my entire life, and so far I don’t have much to show for it besides a pile of unpublished manuscripts. Querying is the epitome of soul-sucking. You have to find that inner source of joy, the intoxication of writing. Otherwise there are too many opportunities to give up. Too many ways to realize that the odds are very much against you. But writing is always there. It is always available to you. You are a writer, and you write, and that in itself must be enough to carry you through all the times (the many, many times) when everything else is going against you and your writing.
1. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” –Dr. Seuss (or maybe Bernard Baruch?)
This isn’t necessarily a writing quote so much as it is a life quote. And it’s one that has resonated with me since the first time I heard it. I’ll be honest—I’m a bit of a strange duck. And I have social anxiety, so getting along with other people can feel like a monumental task. But when I’m getting down on myself for being awkward or weird or whatever, I just have to remember that those who truly care don’t care!
But beyond that, it is a writing quote too. It can be so easy to get caught up in the paralysis of what other people will think about your writing. Whether you are going to offend someone you care about it. If agents and editors will laugh at the premise before they even finish hearing your pitch. Whether it will be received well by readers. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider the impact of your work and take that into account, but at the end of the day, if it’s something you need to write, then write it. Don’t let the paralysis win.