Tag Archives: writing

32 Awesome Quotes about Writing to Motivate and Inspire

I love the craft of writing.  It can be bliss and it can be hell, but it’s always enlivening.  I also love reading what other writers – both famous and less so – have to say about writing, because it reminds me that I am not in this alone and I’m certainly not the first one to experience any particular feeling about it.  Their thoughts can be particularly helpful refocusing me when I feel like I’m slogging through hell.  So, I sat down to make a list of some of my favorite quotes about writing.  Twenty-five seemed like about the right number of quotes to be impactful without trying to be an exhaustive list of perspectives offered on the subject.  I wanted this to be something I could come back to later when I was looking for motivation and inspiration, and hoped that others might dig it, too.  So, why are there 32?  Because I winnowed it down that far and couldn’t bear to part with any more of them.  So, here they are, 32 awesome quotes about writing to motivate and inspire.  Enjoy! 

“A word after a word after a word is power.” 
-Margaret Atwood

“Ideas are like rabbits.  You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” 
-John Steinbeck

“Understand that there is a difference between wanting to write and wanting to be a writer, and if you don’t do the first, you aren’t the second.” 
-Alexi Zentner

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” 
-Isaac Asimov

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
-Ernest Hemingway

“Nothing matters but the writing.  There has been nothing else worthwhile… a stain upon the silence.”
-Samuel Beckett

“You fail only if you stop writing.”
-Ray Bradbury

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing.  What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” 
-Natalie Goldberg

“Write what should not be forgotten.”
-Isabel Allende

“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing, but in the midst of living.” 
-Anais Nin

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:  1. What am I trying to say?  2. What words will express it?  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”
-George Orwell

“For me, writing a novel is like having a dream.  Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake.  I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life.” 
-Haruki Murakami

“Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.” 
-Hermann Hesse

“I learn as much by writing as by reading.” 
-Lord Acton

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” 
-Truman Capote

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” 
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
-Gustave Flaubert

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” 
-Gloria Steinem

“For me, life is writing and I can do it anywhere.  It doesn’t matter where I am.  I listen.  I write.  I live.” 
-Maynard James Keenan

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” 
-E.L. Doctorow

“Don’t worry about trying to please or impress; focus that energy instead on trying to be clear.”
-Ted Thompson

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” 
-Graham Greene

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are.  The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences.  In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 
-Meg Rosoff

“He asked, ‘What makes a man a writer?’  ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it’s simple.  You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.’” 
-Charles Bukowski

“Keep writing.  Try to do a little bit every day, even if the result looks like crap.  Getting from page four to page five is more important than spending three weeks getting page four perfect.” 
-Alan Dean Foster

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story.  You never quite know where they’ll take you.” 
-Beatrix Potter

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” 
-Albert Camus

“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” 
-J. K. Rowling

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.”
-Neil Gaiman

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” 
-Ray Bradbury

“I do not wish to comment on the work; if it does not speak for itself, it is a failure.” 
-George Orwell

“Writers write.” 
-Jill McDonough

Do you have a favorite quote about writing that I didn’t include?  Add it in the comments.  Heck, if you’re feeling inspired, add your own unique perspective on the subject!  I’d love to know your thoughts.

50 Shades of Grammar

Guest Post 
by Anna Villeneuve

Anna Villeneuve is a Professor of English at Citrus College in Glendora, California. She writes romance for Bella Books under a pseudonym.

 

Who gets excited about grammar? When it’s time to talk subjects and verbs, I know that I am going to lose my students’ attention unless I do something dramatic. They already consider the study of sentence syntax nothing short of sadistic, so I use that to my advantage and use 50 Shades to keep their attention. They cannot believe that their literary-lesbian-feminist teacher would ever crack the spine of such a book, and I will admit it was a painful read. However, I have never seen grammar as clearly as I did when I read 50 Shades of Grey and use the book’s conflict to discuss the symbiotic relationship between grammar and romance. The first semester I used this idea, we even created a slogan for a shirt… Punctuation: Words in Bondage.

Anastasia is an independent clause. She went to school and has a job. Critics of the novel argue that she is an underdeveloped character, but all a simple sentence needs is a single subject and verb. Accept her, then, as a simple sentence, a single woman dreaming of another independent clause out there with whom she can coordinate. She’s thinking of all the ways they can become a compound sentence. Maybe a casual comma coordinating conjunction:

I like him, so we will get coffee.

Some nights they can dress it up with a conjunctive adverb:

We’ve been dating for a while; therefore, I will introduce him to my friends.

When they are really serious, she can see the single semi-colon signaling their togetherness:

We are perfect together; we shall marry and live happily ever after.

There’s only one problem.

He wants to subordinate. To be clear, here, he is the only independent clause in a complex sentence. Only dependent clauses need apply. Coordination is so vanilla. His special room is full of subordinating conjunctions:

Although she is beautiful, only docile women interest me.

He has relative pronouns in his pocket:

I am the one who is in control.

The interesting thing about subordinating conjunctions is that what we do intuitively as writers shapes the meaning of the sentence. I never noticed before I read 50 Shades, but when I viewed sentences as relationships, I could very clearly see how much power the independent clause holds over the dependent clause:

Even though he will be married in June, he is single now.
Even though he is single now, he will be married in June.

The first sentence says who cares about promises! Technically, no-one is breaking a code of honor. The second cautions the interested party to hold the value placed on engagements. The independent clause makes the call.

I am not critiquing S&M culture, but I think that it is important that people know what they are getting into. I do not judge Anastasia for trying things his way:

If… if I look at your room, could you… be gentle?

Remember, she is a virgin. But I do have a problem with Christian’s response:

We can be vanilla your first time, but then we do things my way.

What rankles me is that he refuses to acknowledge that without the joining words. Whether they coordinate or subordinate, she is her own person. As her own person, she can even choose to engage in a threesome:

After you play the dominant, we can talk about it, for communication is important.

We can invite as many independent clauses into the sentences as we want (as long as it’s punctuated properly i.e. be careful). The problem is that he sees only a dependent clause. That, in grammatical terms, is a fragment:

Because I let you take control of my life.

The story is not just about naughty sex. It’s about whether two consenting adults are engaging in actions that result in a complete relationship, a complete sentence. The storyline results in a woman sacrificing her identity. In academic writing, a sentence fragment is considered one of the major sentence errors. In life, to allow yourself to be as fragment is a major life error.

It is no accident that the movie was launched to the public for Valentine’s Day, a time when so many feel the pressure to be partnered. I also use my 50 Shades of Grammar to encourage my students to stand proud as the independent clauses they are. There is no shame in the simple sentence! When we partner, in writing and in life, we must remember that there are all sorts of different ways to hook up, each with its own rules of conduct. As long as we know the rules, we’re allowed to have some fun!

Where the Heck Have I Been?!

If you have been a devoted follower of my blog since I started it last summer, then you’ve probably been wondering where the heck I’ve been for the past few months. The truth is that I took a couple of weeks off to focus on finishing my children’s book and a couple of weeks quickly turned into three months.

One of the harshest realizations I’ve had since deciding to pursue writing as a profession is that being at home with my kids doesn’t allow me as much time to write as would be optimal. I thought that I would be able to do social media marketing management part time, write part time, and parent the rest of the time. It’s turned out that once I’ve finished my part time social media management work while my kids are at their ½ day preschool – I usually have about an hour before I have to get back to parenting full time again. Significant chunks of time to work on writing projects are few and far in between.

Trying to keep up with the blog and write a book felt like too much. So, I decided I’d sneak away from Super Eclectica for a couple of weeks to finish my first kid’s book. All went according to plan until I finished the book and decided that I didn’t want that to be the first book I would attempt to get published. It’s a Christmas book and it didn’t seem as marketable as another book idea that I had on the way-back burner. So, I decided that since I’d taken time away from the blog I should just launch straight into that project. Which I did… and am still doing… but it’s not done yet… and the blog has been languishing.

Eventually, the pull to come back to consistently posting to my blog became too much… and here I am. I’m back, baby! And I have a new commitment to you, the reader. I will now be posting to Super Eclectica every Wednesday come hell or high water. Why? Because it matters. Because YOU matter.

To help get things started with a bang, tomorrow I will be featuring my first blog post from a guest writer. She’s an English professor at Citrus College in Glendora, California, and she’s written an entertaining piece about how she uses “50 Shades of Gray” to teach grammar, entitled, “50 Shades of Grammar.” I guarantee you’re gonna love it.

Thanks for tuning in and I’ll be seeing you regularly!

So, How’s the Writing Going?

I’m fortunate to have supportive friends and family members that are enthusiastic about my transition to a freelance writing career.  When I visit with them the question that invariably comes up is “So, how’s the writing going?”

For their sakes – and for the sake of anyone in the whole wide world that might be reading this – I’m pleased to say that it is going well!

Here’s the latest:

I’m writing every day.  It’s been a lot like working out.  My writing has become stronger the more I have been doing it and I’ve become able to write more in less time.  My proof reading skills, clarity, and agility at rewriting have also improved (but I suppose you can judge some of that for yourself).

I’ve been studying hard and beefing up my knowledge of social media and SEO writing.  My goal is to become an expert in the area in order to maximize my marketability.  I approached a friend at EnnouncementCards.com and asked her if I could interview her about her experience employing people to manage her social media and SEO.  We had a phone meeting that helped me gain perspective into the kinds of things that will best help me serve clients.

…A couple of weeks later she contacted me and said that the person that handled their social media part time had taken on other commitments and had given notice.  She stated that she was impressed with my knowledge when we spoke and wanted to know if I would want to take over managing their social media.  I was delighted by the opportunity, and began working for them at the beginning of August.  It’s been a fantastic experience so far.  She has been pleased with my work and the boost in Facebook page likes, reach and engagement that I have quickly been able to attain.  I enjoy writing the short bursts of creative copy and doing some light graphic design.  I am also excited that my decision to make this transition to freelance writing has resulted in employment in short order.  That has been a big encouragement.

This morning, I completed a 2,400 word sermon that I will be giving at my church (Neighborhood UU Church of Pasadena, CA) later this month.  It is the culmination of work that I began in Dr. Rev. Jim Nelson’s sermon writing class that I took in the spring called “Preacher in You.”  It has been a wonderful spiritual and intellectual journey and I’m excited to see how it will be received.  Wish me luck!

I’m working my way through the next rewrite on my children’s book tentatively titled, “A Gift for Emily.”  This time around I am using Ann Whitford Paul’s “Writing Picture Books” as my guide.  Since this is my first crack at writing a children’s book it seemed logical to take a structured approach such as this.  My friend and mentor Sean Diviny, author of “Snow Inside the House” and “Halloween Motel” has also been a huge asset to me in this process.

I have an outline mapped out in my brain for my entry into the Real Simple life lessons essay contest.  That’s my next project.  It will be my first entry into a writing contest since my short play “Spin Cycle” won the The New American Theatre One Act Festival contest about a decade ago.

I will begin applying for more freelance jobs in September, when my twins start preschool.  Right now, my plate is as full as time allows (I’m writing this blog entry while the kids are napping).  I’ve subscribed to the Media Bistro Morning Media Newsfeed and FreelanceWriting.com’s Morning Coffee eNewsletter, and both seem like they will be excellent sources for job leads when the time comes.

Oh… and I’m writing a blog.  You might have heard of it.  It’s called Super Eclectica and I write about everything from adventures in parenting to advice for in-laws to – pause for dramatic effect – how my writing is going.  You should totally subscribe to it.

The Birth of a Stay-At-Home Dad

I’m the featured guest blogger on the popular “Pile of Babies” blog today! A piece I wrote called “15 Things I’ve Learned From Becoming a Stay-At-Home Dad” about the education I received during my first few months as a stay-at-home dad is being showcased by the delightfully witty Meredith Bland, on her blog. I enjoyed writing the post a great deal and look forward to writing about my parenting adventures more here. If you have arrived at “Super Eclectica” from the link on “Pile of Babies” then you might also enjoy a post from earlier this week on my blog entitled, “12 Things You Say to Your Preschooler and What Your Preschooler Hears.”  Sure it’s another list, but it doubles as an English to Preschooler dictionary.

Whether you are a new or returning visitor to “Super Eclectica,” thanks so much for stopping by.  Keep checking back for posts on a variety of topics, including my new endeavor to turn my passion for writing into my full time career.

Writing with Both Feet

Here’s something you might not know about me – especially if you don’t know me.  I’ve been itching to be a full time writer for about seven years.  I’ve been writing for my whole-entire adult life, about 20 years to be less vague.  Stuff I’ve written include spec television scripts, short films, one-act plays, standup comedy, sketch comedy, and even educational content for an online university.  I’ve enjoyed it all, but there wasn’t enough paid work to necessitate quitting my day job.  Of course, a large part of the reason that there wasn’t much paid work was due to the fact that I never really pursued paid work.  I mostly just wrote whatever the heck I wanted to write for pleasure or to enter into competitions and festivals.

Then, last year, my wife who had been a kick-ass stay-at-home Mom to our twins for three years received an offer to return to her marketing and PR career.  It was a dream job for her and she was stoked about doing it.  So, we made the decision to trade places.  She would return to the workforce and I would get the opportunity to do something that I never thought in a million billion trillion years I’d ever have the chance to do – be a stay-at-home Dad to our three-year-olds.  I’m pleased to report that the three of us are still alive and doing well, and my wife is rockin’ her new job.

Cut to this fall:  The twins start preschool (we were going to start them last year, but I was selfish and decided that I wanted a year with them before I had to give them up for part of the day).  I still want them all to myself, of course, but they are turning four soon, we want them to have a year of preschool before they start kindergarten, and so this is happening.  The upside is that it means I’ll have time carved into my schedule when I can write with regularity, plus whatever amount of sleep I’m willing to give up to write (which is when I write, now).

So, here’s the plan… I’m going to make a real go of it!  Presently, I’m putting the finishing touches on a children’s book and have two more in the works.  I have tentative plans to write an hour-long drama spec.  Oh yeah, and I started a blog (it’s called “Super Eclectica” and it’s really great – you should totally check it out.  I wrote this one piece about how I’m launching my writing career.  It’s poignant and powerful.  Real Rocky Balboa, root for the underdog kind of stuff).  I’ll also be applying for freelance writing gigs.

So, I’m jumping in with both feet.  I’ll write until my fingers are nubs and then tape Lego Duplos to the nubs and keep on writing until I make it.  When the time comes that we planned for me to rejoin the workforce I will have to not-to, because I will be writing full time and earning enough money for my wife and me to reach our financial goals.

Can I do it?  Stay tuned and find out!

The Blog About All of It

Geez.  I’ve spent far too long – years – thinking about blog ideas and bouncing them off of people to see what popped.  Once, I was going to write a blog about mammals… all mammals all the time (it was going to be called either “Matt’s Mammals” or “MammalMania,” I couldn’t decide).  Then it was going to be a blog about better living through science (that one was going to be called “Factual Advantage” – get it?).  For a while, it was going to be a blog about making the leap into writing as a career (called “Writing with Both Feet”).  Most recently, it was going to be a blog that promotes public enthusiasm for “humanned” space travel & space outposts (entitled either “Let’s Go Boldly!” or “Peeps in Space” – the second name applying to both people and sugar-coated marshmallow chicks in space, of course). 

Last fall, I became a stay-at-home Dad.  Since then, several folks have suggested that I blog about that.  The idea appealed to me, but I saw a couple of drawbacks.  First, there are a veritable ton of Dad blogs already saturating the interwebs.  Second, I wasn’t sure that I had all that much new stuff to say about it other than it’s lots of fun, I feel lucky to have the chance to do it, and I am tired all. the. time.

Recently, I had a couple of folks that are fans of my ramblings tell me, “I really enjoy your writing.  Honestly, you would write about anything and I’d read it.”  Eureka!  I finally had the theme for my blog… all of it.

So, here’s my blog about all of it.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I hope to enjoy writing it.

 

(Be daring and leave a comment; it’ll make me feel like I’m not blogging into the virtual void.)