Random Thursday: Inspiration, Perspiration, and Murdering Unicorns

For your browsing pleasure, some of my favorite quotes about writing.

I’m planning on putting the Fitzgerald one on a tee-shirt . . . 


Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.
—E. B. White

One of the hardest things about writing lyrics is to make the lyrics sit on the music in such a way that you’re not aware there was a writer there.
—Stephen Sondheim

“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. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
—Anne Lamott

Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.
—Terry Pratchett

If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.
—Kingsley Amis

“Writers aren’t exactly people, they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald 

I flat-out stole this from Laura Maylene Walter, who posted it (with some quotes that are far cooler than the ones I’m sharing today) yesterday:


Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”;
your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

—Mark Twain

Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.
—Ernest Hemingway

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.
—Robert Frost

Writing a book for me, I expect, is very similar to the experience of reading the book for my readers.
—R. A. Salvatore


I’ve posted this before, a long time ago, but it’s so beautifully wrong, I had to do it again:


I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.
—Steven Wright

Whatever asshole said that thing about work (or genius) being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration should probably be punched in the face for giving advice that rhymes because, pshhh, c’mon. Rhyming? Really? Still, he’s right. You want to write a book, then learn that the prevailing feeling is one of frustration. In writing a novel you will feel wayward and weird just as often as you feel energized and excited. Your book does not thrive on inspiration. Your book is born only of work.

Your book thrives on your ass finishing the job.

Stop chasing that dragon.

You do not work for the Muse. She works for you. Chain her to the pole and make her dance

—Chuck Wendig, Murdering Unicorns: Ending the Myths that Poison the Writer’s Life.


You fail only if you stop writing.
—Ray Bradbury