11 Inspiring Quotes from the World’s Best Writers

The last time we had a guest post from Laura Pepper Wu (11 Signs You’re Meant To Be A Writer), things went a bit nuts, with her post getting nearly 100 comments and being shared nearly 200 and over 400 times on Twitter and Facebook respectively. Today she’s back to share news of her new app, Write On! Daily Kick-Ass Writing Inspiration: 365 Tips & Quotes from the World’s Best Writers, and 11 of her favorite such quotes for those self-doubt-filled, motivation-lacking, no-amount-of-coffee-can-get-this-going bad writing days. Welcome back, Laura!

‘Having a bad writing day? Read (and bookmark!) these 11 quotes.

We all have ‘em once in while – awful, dragging, low writing-motivation days. The last thing you want to do is open up that folder on your computer, the one marked ‘WIP’.

You're a writer

Sometimes it helps to know you’re not alone (you’re definitely not), and that this too shall pass (especially with a glass of wine or two). For me, it always helps to read words of wisdom from an admirable writer too. Here’s a collection of my favorites taken from the new app Write On! Daily Kick-Ass Writing Inspiration 365 Tips & Quotes from the World’s Best Writers.

1. “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult

Take the pressure off yourself by focusing on simply getting some words onto the page and not worrying whether the result is good or bad. The refining and shaping can come later.

2. “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.” – Author Unknown

Know that writing is not meant to be all butterflies and rainbows, and that sometimes the crappy days are what make you a stronger writer!

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A screenshot from Laura’s new app

3. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

Choose to go pro, and know that a big part of that is not allowing yourself to give up.

4. “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

If things are really bad, aim to write just one good sentence. Not only is it better than a hundred bad sentences, it might also give you the encouragement to write more.

5. “Asking “Why?” can lead to understanding. Asking “Why not?” can lead to breakthroughs.” – Daniel Pink

If you feel stuck with a chapter, section, or storyline, think about the problem in another way. Turn the question upside down and you might just have the breakthrough you need!

6. “Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don’t know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come.” – Chuck Palahniuk

I’ve found this over and over again; doing something mindless (but somewhat productive), allows me to tap into a different part of the brain that comes up with ideas. Now I’m no neuroscientist, so I can’t tell you why, but I do know that this works. Exercise, especially stretching, seems to have the same effect. Try it!

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7. “I find it hard to start writing in the morning; but the dejection lasts only 30 minutes, and once I start I forget all about it. – Virginia Woolf

If you don’t feel like getting started, commit to just 30 minutes (or 15, or even 3), and more than likely you’ll keep going past that mark. The hardest part is often just getting started, but once you’ve started you’ll find that you might as well just keep going!

8. “To feed your muse… you must still take long walks around your city or town, or walks in the country by day. And long walks, at any time, through bookstores and libraries.” – Ray Bradbury

Take a hike! I have my best ideas while walking the dog, and frequently have to hurry home to get them onto paper. There’s something about being out in nature, or being inspired by people and objects around us that can trigger new ideas and motivation. Plus, the act of moving forwards can extend onto the page. When in doubt, take a walk and you’ll get back to your desk refreshed.

9. “It’s no secret that the best place to write, in my opinion, is in a café. You don’t have to make your own coffee, you don’t have to feel like you’re in solitary confinement and if you have writers block, you can get up and walk to the next café while giving your batteries time to recharge and brain time to think.” – J.K. Rowling

Get thee to a cafe! (Catherine will no doubt agree with this suggestion to go get caffeinated…)

10. “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! – William Faulkner

Feed yourself a diet of books, and you’ll probably see that it helps improve your writing. If the writing isn’t happening, I never feel guilty for opening up a book and reading a chapter or two. After all we’ve got to remember why we’re doing this in the first place!

11. “The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.”- Jules Renard

Take the pressure off yourself by imagining that you’re simply a conduit, conducting your story from the air and onto the page. Somehow telling myself this takes the pressure off, and I get out of my own way and let the words fall onto the page. Interestingly, the Grammy-award winning artist Pharrell believes that all his work is created this way, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s definitely good enough for me!

Over to you… Have a favorite quote that helps you get through the bad writing days? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear it!’

LauraPW-Headshot-CroppedLaura Pepper Wu is the founder and editor of The Write Life Magazine and 30 Day Books. Write On! is her newest app. Each day you’ll get an inspirational or instructional quote from one of the world’s best writers. It’s available for $0.99 (for a limited time) in the Apple App Store here.

35 thoughts on “11 Inspiring Quotes from the World’s Best Writers

  1. Journey Photographic says:

    As an avid reader but active photographer, it’s amazing how many of these quotes can be applied to photography (or, I suspect, any creative field) – thank you both for sharing them with us!

  2. Lauren Clark says:

    Love it! Can’t argue with the Read, Read, Read…! Laura Papper Wu just recommended that I read JoJo Moyes’ “Me Before You” and it’s giving me all sorts of inspiration :)

  3. Beth @plasticrosaries says:

    I always go back to Charles Bukowski’s So you want to to be a writer? on bad days. Makes me think that if one day nothing comes, there will be a day where it does and that’s OK :)!

  4. gerhogan says:

    So, I’m not actually procrastinating as I read this, instead — I’m actually preparing to write! Good to know we all have something in common with Virginia Woolf, now and again!

  5. Ali Isaac says:

    Walking the dog somewhere beautiful always works for me! As does taking a break to do some ‘mindless’ chore. Also driving, anything mundane which sets my mind free to wander, in fact, instead of chaining it to my laptop (even if she is beautifully red and shiny and called FoxyRoxy!) And btw, I have always felt that my stories come to me from elsewhere, and that I am just the conduit.

  6. shelleyhazen83 says:

    Reblogged this on Line, word, letter and commented:
    “Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don’t know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come.” – Chuck Palahniuk

  7. logangrey20 says:

    I agree with the exercise suggestion. Just getting the blood flowing helps my mood and makes me motivated to try and tackle the enormous task of editing my novel.

  8. Emily Heart says:

    Thank you, this is just what I needed. It’s true that getting started is the hardest part for me and then I’m in another world and time stops altogether and I pray for no interruptions, which is laughable in a house with two kids.

  9. dianabletter says:

    Great ideas! I would add, “Give yourself permission to write badly.” And be patient – it took years but after self-publishing The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle, I sold my novel to William Morrow/HarperCollins. So don’t give up! I have some encouraging words to add in my blog (thank you Catherine, for urging me to start a blog!) here http://thebestchapter.com/2014/05/14/this-self-published-writers-dream-comes-true-a-publishing-house-contract/

  10. merrybond22 says:

    I love inspiring quotes! Thanks so much for these.
    My favorite is “embrace failure”. Once you do that you can never go wrong, in my opinion. :-) I’ll definitely share this with my writing students.

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