Every writer needs a little inspiration now and then. In fact, some of us need a great deal more than others. And it’s not surprising, really – when you consider everything a writer must face in a day. The extreme hours of isolation, the battling self-doubt, the anxiety of the blank page, the frustration of endless revision. Amidst all this madness, it is only natural to wind up feeling a little uninspired. But what do you do when you get this way? For many, the temptation is to simply throw down the pen, close the laptop, sit back and wait for inspiration to strike again. But if you take this approach, you’ll never get any writing done. It’s just as Dan Poynter said, "If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter." So, if you want to avoid becoming a waiter, yet you find yourself struggling with inspiration, try actively seeking it out. Maybe read a good book, listen to an inspiring track, or go for a walk to your favourite spot? Or maybe read up on some inspirational quotes, written by some famous authors? To help you out with that last one, we've gathered five quotes to inspire struggling writers.
#5. Richard Rhodes
If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me if I do? You’re a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle."
A lengthy one to start with perhaps, but this quote is just bursting with inspiration. Not to mention, Rhodes raises some of the key issues that we, as writers, face. Fear, self-consciousness, self-doubt. All of these things can indeed be crippling. Negative thoughts can plague our minds and fill us with an uncomfortable degree of uncertainty. But here’s the thing about fear: The only way it can stop us is if we allow it to. The truth is, every writer has to battle with that little demon-voice, residing inside their head – the one that questions, ‘Who are you?’ or, ‘What right do you have to be a writer?’ But we must not let that voice sway us. Imagine where literature would be today if people like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, or Charles Dickens, had listened to the poisonous whisperings of their doubts. It is up to each and every one of us to shut out our inner demons, and remind ourselves what Rhodes asserts in this quote. That we are human beings, with a unique story to tell. And we have every right to tell it. Fear is the only thing that can stop us. So whatever we do, we must never let fear have the final word.
#4. Richard Bach
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit."
Following on from Rhodes, Bach’s quote is similarly motivating for writers grappling with issues of fear and self-doubt. Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself as a ‘real’ writer. A professional writer. Particularly when you are just starting out. You can spend far too long comparing yourself to others, and feeling as though you do not measure up to their standards. As though everyone else out there is a proper, ‘professional’ writer, while you are just an amateur. But that is just your ‘inner demon’ talking. If you have a passion for writing, you are already a writer. You may feel like an amateur at times, but all you have to do is keep writing. That is all it takes. Because the more you write, the more you learn, and the more you improve. So keep writing, and before you know it, you’ll find that you are a professional.
#3. Jodi Picoult
You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page."
Sometimes the hardest thing for a writer to do is to start writing. Especially if you're a perfectionist. Some writers are afraid of writing a ‘bad page.’ It is all too tempting to only write what we deem ‘worthy’ – to only put on the page what we have already crafted into perfection in our minds. But Jodi Picoult explains why we don’t need to be afraid of writing a bad page – because we can always come back and edit. That, after all, is what editing is for. Refining our work. Once we realise this, and lose our fear of the ‘bad page,’ you’d be surprised how much easier it is to take that first step and start writing.
However, it is not only beginning that can be difficult in writing, but finishing also. Here’s where Doctorow has us covered.
#2. E.L. Doctorow
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
Writing a novel can certainly be a long, and arduous task. So often it can feel impossible to complete. With multiple drafting, and redrafting, and re-redrafting, the finish line can seem so far beyond our sight, we may never be able to reach it. But as Doctorow has reminded us, we don’t necessarily need to see the finish line in order to get there. The finish line exists. It is waiting for us in the dark, beyond the edge of our vision. If we keep ourselves focussed on the present, keep our eyes fixed on what we can see, then before we know it, those headlights will be shining, full-beam on our final destination. So the next time you are struggling through an ever-growing pile of drafts and edits, keep this in mind, and let Doctorow inspire you to drive on!
#1. Stephen King
Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up."
Sometimes, all we need to do is remember the magic. Writing can be a taxing task, and the struggles involved can cause us to lose sight of our passion. So if the fire in your heart is dwindling, remember this: We are sorcerers of the written word, mages of creation. Our pens are our wands, and through them, we have the power to spellbind all who read our scrawls. Writing is magic, so drink it in. Let it flow through your veins, liven your limbs, enchant your soul.
Want more inspiring quotes? Try our Top 5 Quotes on Writing.