5 Powerful Quotes on Writing to Help You Get Unstuck
I get it.
Writing isn’t easy.
Building a writing career? That’s even more difficult.
You’re not always feeling it. You’re afraid of failure (or success). Maybe you feel like quitting altogether. I’ve been there.
I practically bathe in quotes to motivate myself in my writing career and my life.
Here are a few of my favorite, plus .02 on each quote from yours truly.
On Writer’s Block
“Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work” – Jerry Seinfield
Some days I’m just not feeling it. I don’t really know what to say. The words don’t come out the way I want them to.
Regardless, these are poor excuses for not doing the work.
The work separates amateurs and professionals. Write for joy, yes, but treat it like you would your current profession.
I bet you don’t always feel like going to work, but you like eating and having a roof over your head, so you go. You don’t get “employee’s block.”
I wrote a guide on defeating writer’s block. One of the main points in it is to simply get your fingers moving. Write 100 words of gibberish, delete it, and start over if you need to.
As Charles Bukowski said, “writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
The Taste Gap
Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean? – Ira Glass
If you’re an avid reader, you know the feeling of being in the taste gap.
You look at your favorite writer and think, “There’s no way I can be like them.”
You want to be great, but you keep falling short.
Before the words make it onto the page, they sound so great don’t they? You have an idea of what you want to say but what ends up on the page almost never matches what was in your head.
It’s important to remember the taste gap can be closed. How do you do it? According to Glass, “the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work.”
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve hit the wall. I remember multiple periods of writing tens of thousands of words I hated.
You will go through periods where you’ll feel like your writing will never improve enough to close the gap, but it will, as long as you do the work.
Quantity creates quality. It will take you years before you can spit out polished words. Keep a long-term view, do the work, and wait for your effort to bear fruit.
On Being a Fraud
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” – Steven Pressfield
Many writers suffer from impostor syndrome. They feel like frauds, wannabe writers, fakes.
If you feel this way, it means a few things.
First, it means you care about creating great work. If you’re overly confident, it means you can do no wrong. If you can do no wrong, you won’t refine your work, because it’s already perfect.
Second, it means you’re moving in the right direction. If your dream doesn’t scare you a little bit, you need a new dream.
Putting your work out there is scary. Even though rejection and doubt present no physical danger, they’re two of the most fear inducing words in the world.
Great writers push through that wall. How do they do it?
I’m not sure if I have a great answer. You sort of have to just…do it.
Hit publish. Outline your book — the one you think is going to suck — and write it anyway.
When you face your fears, you’ll realize they’ll never go away, but you’ll also realize you can handle them.
If you write, you’re not a fraud.
If you write, you’re a writer, period.
On The Love of Writing
“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem
I’m glad I wasn’t seduced into writing by headlines like “Go from zero to six figures in six months by starting a blog.”
When I started, I had no idea there was any money in writing. A friend invited me to write for his website and it was love at first keystroke.
In my real life, I have a hard time empathizing with people. I can be selfish and arrogant. Writing is one of the ways I’m able to connect with people.
What about you? What do you love about writing? Is it the only thing that when you do it, you don’t feel you should be doing anything else?
If you want to write solely for fame, or because you read a blog post about getting rich from it, or you just think it’d be cool, you will fail.
Seriously, if any of the above statements describe you it’s best to save yourself the heartache.
Writing isn’t hard, per se, but you have to write incessantly to get good at it. You won’t write enough to succeed if you don’t love it.
Would you write even if you never made a penny from it? If the answer is yes, keep at it. Write through “the taste gap,” treat writer’s block as a “phony excuse for not doing your work,” and give yourself the label of a writer.
If the answer is yes, keep at it. Write through “the taste gap,” treat writer’s block as a “phony excuse for not doing your work,” and give yourself the label of a writer.
On Writing Inspiration
“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.” – William Faulkner
True writers make their work a habit.
Inspiration is only useful when coupled with work. You can read all the quotes you want, but quotes won’t turn you into a writer, an entrepreneur, or a successful person of any kind — no matter how much people on Instagram try to convince you they will.
I love quotes, but I also love making progress.
In my short writing career, it’s become clear to me the best writers — the ones we all look up to — are products of persistence and progress, nothing more.
They don’t have an inordinate amount of talent. They just show up, day after day after day.
How do you make writing a habit? I wrote a 4,000-word guide on the subject.
A few key points from the piece:
- Reframe the way you view writing – If you view it as daunting, it will be. If you view great writing as an achievable goal, you’ll achieve it (eventually)
- Make a minimum viable commitment – Just 30 minutes of daily writing is enough to write multiple books in a year
- Stop trying to be perfect – For every successful writer with a large body of (imperfect) work, there are 1,000 perfectionist writers with manuscripts collecting dust in a drawer
I don’t want you to read these quotes, feel warm and fuzzy, and do nothing.
Do you have any quotes about writing you love? Drop them in the comments below, post them somewhere in your writing space, and get to work.