13 quotations that describe the writer’s craft

See whether you relate to these wordsmiths’ observations about creating and publishing their works.

Most of my favorite authors have not written anything new in hundreds of years.

The Brontes, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, George Eliot—who all wrote in the 19th to early 20th century—have a combined body of work. Because nothing new will be added to that body of work, I must be content with reading their works over and over again.

On Oct. 19, something wondrous is happening. My favorite living author, Philip Pullman, is releasing “The Book of Dust,” a new installment in the His Dark Materials series.

A new book from an author I adore—this must have been what it was like when Charles Dickens published the next chapter of a story in “All the Year Round” or when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle released a new Sherlock Holmes mystery.

In honor of Pullman and his upcoming release, here are quotations about writing to inspire you:

1. “The fact is that writing is hard work, and sometimes you don’t want to do it, and you can’t think of what to write next, and you’re fed up with the whole damn business. Do you think plumbers don’t feel like that about their work from time to time? Of course there will be days when the stuff is not flowing freely. What you do then is make it up.”—Philip Pullman

2. “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen), and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”—Neil Gaiman

3. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”—Isaac Asimov

4. “I never write ‘metropolis’ for seven cents when I can write ‘city’ and get paid the same.”—Mark Twain

5. “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”—Anne Lamott

6. “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”—George Orwell

7. “For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”—Catherine Drinker Bowen

8. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”—Lawrence Block

9. “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”—Ray Bradbury

10. “The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them—words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out.”—Stephen King

PR Daily readers, please add your favorite quotations to the list.

Laura Hale Brockway is a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her posts on writing, editing and corporate life at impertinentremarks.com.


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