Curated by Jon Winokur, this site collects quotes from past and present writers, in the form of a Quote of the Day post and daily email. If you’re in need of inspiration, motivation or new ideas, these daily bursts of creativity can give you just that.
Writing is hard work. It is gathering ten times as much material as can ever be used. This information has to be gleaned to get the best possible use from it. The reader has to be convinced that the writer knows what he is writing about.
Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue.
I think there are very few rules that can’t be broken. I think there is only one that is very difficult to break. I have seen it broken, but not very often. It’s that something has to change. From the beginning of the story to the end, something needs to be different. The only time I’ve ever seen it successfully broken was a Grace Paley story called “A Conversation With My Father.” But as a general rule, something has to change. There has to be some source of tension.
My ear is my critical tool as a writer, because it’s what catches the false notes. Your eye can very easily glide across the page, look down at the text and go, “Oh yeah, that’s fine.” But if you read it out and hear it, your ear will very quickly tell you when you’re not quite there.
Persist. If you stop, then you’re removing yourself from the conversation. You have to keep going and weather rejection until you find the person who will open the door for you. You have to hold up your end of the bargain. Become the best writer you can because nobody owes you anything; you owe that to yourself.
It is almost a lost cause to argue that unique means unduplicated—quite different from anything else in the world—and can not be modified by any such adjective as most. There are no degrees of uniqueness, except in American advertising. Everything is more unique than everything else.
No one asks what Mozart means. Or an Indian raga or the little tripping dance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to “Cheek to Cheek” in Top Hat. Forget about making things that are understood. I don’t know what Abba means, but I love it. Imagination is your creed; sentimentality and lack of feeling your foe. All art comes from love — love of doing something.
What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.
They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor.