I gathered these quotes for my book “How To Be A Writer Who Writes: Strategies and Tactics to Start and Finish Your Book or Script”.
Actually, I found these quotes while procrastinating during the writing of my book, but, as I say in my book (which I love being able to say), there are lots of ways of moving your project forward and, in certain phases of the process, it’s ok to do things on instinct, even if you don’t know exactly how – or if – they’ll come into play.
It turned out these quotes helped illuminate a lot of the content in the book. Besides, what writer doesn’t like a good inspirational quote? I’ve included some classic oft-quoted quotes (“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”) and some of the usual oft-quoted quote machines like Twain, Capote, Einstein and Churchill, but I tried to broaden the net by including ‘low-brow’ (genre) writers plus people from other disciplines like Julia Childs, Michelangelo and Bruce Lee.
I hope you find these thoughts inspirational, but do, eventually, get back to work on your own writing project, won’t you?
Phase 1: Gathering
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” — Buddha
“With the possible exception of the equator, everything begins somewhere.” — C.S. Lewis
“Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory.” — Tennessee Williams
“Nothing changes until something moves.” — Albert Einstein
“You must learn to overcome your very natural and appropriate revulsion for your own work.” — William Gibson
“Great art of any kind needs a gestation period. It needs a period where people keep their opinions to their fucking selves. You take any artist from the history of the world, from Michelangelo to Bozo the Clown—and if you can have widespread opinion on their first time out, you can kill the great spark that makes them who they are.” — Albert Brooks
“Every morning between 9 and 12, I go to my room and sit before a piece of paper. Many times, I just sit for three hours with no ideas coming to me. But I know one thing. If an idea does come between 9 and 12 I am there ready for it.” — Flannery O’Connor
“If I write in public, every time I need to know what a character is doing with his hand or foot, I can look up and study people and find compelling gestures that I can harvest. Writing in public gives you that access to a junkyard of details all around you.” — Chuck Palahniuk
“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” — Sidney Sheldon
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh
“Everyone carries around his own monsters.” — Richard Pryor
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King
“Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.” — Jean Cocteau
Phase 2: Planning
“Writing a novel is like heading out over the open sea in a small boat. It helps if you have a plan.” — John Gardner
“The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook stage. It is like believing in dreams in the morning.” — Erica Jong
“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” — Leonard Bernstein
“I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In ‘The Godfather’ it was succession. In ‘The Conversation’ it was privacy. In ‘Apocalypse’ it was morality.” — Francis Ford Coppola
“If a story doesn’t give you a hard-on in the first couple of scenes, throw it in the goddamned garbage.” — Sam Fuller
“If the scene bores you when you read it, rest assured it will bore the actors, and will, then, bore the audience, and we’re all going to be back in the breadline.” — David Mamet
“I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.” — James Patterson
“Begin with an individual and you find that you have created a type; begin with a type and you find that you have created—nothing.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Usually the characters are where I start. Then I continually ask myself, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen to this character?’ ” — Paul Haggis
“Look for the contradictions in every character, especially in your heroes and villains. No one should be what they first seem to be. Surprise the audience.” — Elia Kazan
“The Queen dies, then the King dies is a plot. The Queen dies, then the King dies of a broken heart is a story.” — E.M. Forster
“If you’re going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all.” — Joseph Campbell
“You have to kill the bad guy.” — Dino De Laurentiis
“A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end . . . but not necessarily in that order.” — Jean Luc Godard
“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” — W. Somerset Maugham
“The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book.” — Mickey Spillane
“The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.” — Marcus Aurelius
“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.” — Paul Cezanne
Tune in next time for inspirational quotes for
Phase 3: Rough Drafting
Phase 4: Revising
Phase 5: Letting Go
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This material is excerpted from “How To Be A Writer Who Writes: Strategies and Tactics to Start and Finish Your Book or Script” by Greg Miller. Get the book for Kindle or any other e-book formats.
Contact Greg directly for one-on-one coaching that is “Invaluable!“
Yes these quotes are all relative, reading out loud is like acting, hearing the sentence makes you think twice, feeling the vibration in your chest is coming from the heart or is it coming just from your lungs, just like hot breath. Is it just hot air or does it make sense with feeling and expression? mmmmhmmm. Think about it?
Love these quotes. Thank you.
I found the only way to get my two non-fiction books written was to have a deadline imposed on me from the outside. When I signed the contract with Wiley Jossey-Bass to write my newest book, Idea Stormers, How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs, the contract included a clause that the book would be 60,000 words in length. I called the senior editor and asked how much flexibility/what the limit was on this count. She said I probably didn’t want to go over the count by more than 10%. I said, I’m not talking about the UPPER limit… I’m talking about the LOWER limit!
Bryan Mattimore, Growth Engine