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The Three Best Things You Ever Heard Other Writers Say About Writing
Carl E Reed
Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 2:51 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608

In the course of a lifetime of reading and writing we’ve all encountered the wit and wisdom of other writers. What are the three best (by which I mean to say transfixing, inspirational, epiphanic or otherwise inarguably insightful, worthy and wise) things you ever read from other writers on the craft of writing?

Here are my top three: 

     A writer should be of as great probity and honesty as a priest of god.



— To write is to invade another’s space, if only to memorialize it; to write is to invite angry censure from those who don’t write, or who don’t write in quite the way you do, for whom you may seem a threat. Art by its nature is a transgressive act, and artists must accept being punished for it. The more original and unsettling their art, the more devastating the punishment.

                                                                                             —Joyce Carol Oates

—Literature should not disappear up its own asshole.

                                                                                               —Kurt Vonnegut

GD Deckard
Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 4:07 PM
1. "The mark of mediocrity is to look for precedent.” - Norman Mailer

2. "To me, clarity is the most important factor of good writing." -Ben Bova

3. “As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I'm not sure that I'm going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says 'you are nothing', I will be a writer.” - Hunter S. Thompson
Atthys Gage
Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:48 PM
Joined: 6/7/2011
Posts: 467

–"Easy reading is damn hard writing."  -- Nathaniel Hawthorne (I consider this particularly encouraging for those of us who write 'easy' genre fiction.)

– "Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards."
                                       --Robert Heinlein

– "We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."  --Kurt Vonnegut.  (This is actually the unofficial epigram of 'Flight of the Wren.') 

And one more for all of us at this fiction factory:   
"Only ambitious nonentities and hearty mediocrities exhibit their rough drafts.  It's like passing around samples of sputum."    -- Vladimir Nabokov.

I'm quite sure Nabokov never workshopped a work of fiction but, then again, who'd have had the nerve to edit him?

Angela Martello
Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:56 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394

"You fail only if you stop writing." - Ray Bradbury

"Work till your ink be dry, and with your tears
Moist it again, and frame some feeling line
That may discover such integrity." - William Shakespeare (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." - Douglas Adams
Atthys Gage
Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:29 AM
Joined: 6/7/2011
Posts: 467

I meant epigraph, of course.  Though i suppose it is also an epigram.   Mea culpa. 
Danielle Poiesz
Posted: Sunday, April 8, 2012 8:43 AM
As promised, here are some of my personal faves. I have a ton more but I won't torture you

"Only if stories make sense can we make sense of our world. Telling stories may be an essential existential act. We tell stories to define our world in casual, temporal terms we can understand. And maybe, on some level, we have to tell ourselves stories to prove to ourselves that we exist." -Linda Cowgill on screenwriting

"The first key to writing is to write. Not to think." – Finding Forrester

“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” – John Jakes

“Whether or not you write well, write bravely.” – Bill Stout

Danielle Bowers
Posted: Sunday, April 8, 2012 6:21 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 280

This one is long, but I always look at it when I get discouraged. 

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good
taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff,
it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but
it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still
killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of
people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do
interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work
doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go
through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this
phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do
is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you
will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that
you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your
ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone
I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile.
You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

  --- Ira Glass

GD Deckard
Posted: Monday, April 9, 2012 8:28 PM

"But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still  killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you."

Well, that illuminates more than I can say. Thank you, Danielle.

LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 11:41 AM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

What an amazing quote, Danielle. Thank you.
Angela Martello
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 8:54 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394

Love that William Shakespeare:

“To be a well-favored man is the gift of fortune, but to write or read comes by nature.”

--William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing

Laura Dwyer
Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012 3:23 PM
Joined: 1/10/2012
Posts: 192

I have so many favorites, and thank you to all who provided me with more to add, but here are a few of mine (hope they haven't already been listed!):

"Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position." 
-- Stephen King

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing."
-- Benjamin Franklin

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."
-- Robert Frost
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 2:47 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356

Bumping this up!

Nicki Hill
Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012 9:51 PM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175

"There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." ~ Ernest Hemingway

"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  (This is how I feel all the time!)

"If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it." ~ Anais Nin

And a bonus fourth:
"True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those who move easiest have learned to dance." ~ Alexander Pope

Posted: Saturday, August 4, 2012 4:17 PM
Douglas Clegg told me a number of years ago, "Take a nap."

amy la
Posted: Monday, September 3, 2012 2:52 AM
Joined: 9/2/2012
Posts: 1

I've only got two but here goes:

Take a writer away from his typewriter
and all you have left
the sickness
which started him
in the
beginning       - charles bukowski

If only you'd remember before you sit down to write that you've been a reader long before you were ever a writer...then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world [you] would most want to read if you had your heart's choice.  The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself.              - J.D Salinger (Seymour Glass to his younger brother, Buddy)

Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013 11:57 PM
Joined: 12/30/2012
Posts: 7

I came across this one and was startled at how true it was:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
- Maya Angelou

And this one by Neil Gaiman:
“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” 
― Neil Gaiman

May we all have good writing days

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013 1:00 PM
Budding authors, be self-disciplined. It is a lonely job. And LISTEN to experts. ~ Rosamunde Pilcher

Posted: Monday, February 1, 2016 5:36 AM
Joined: 1/31/2016
Posts: 30

I write therfore I am.

Did like the Hunter S. Thompson quote.

Ceasar      "Sieze the Day."




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