As writers, we all experience moments of angst. We become paralyzed with self-doubts. Is our latest work in progress so crappy we should hit the delete button? Go back to that job at the post office?
Writing is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work and can be a cruel business. If you’re a published author, perhaps there are moments when you wonder if you’re capable of writing another book. If you’re a new writer trying to break into print, you may be sick to death of rejections that damn with faint praise. “Your book is promising, but I’m going to pass. Good luck, yada, yada, yada.”
Moments like these may cause the creative juices to dry up and blow away. When it happens to me, I visit my old friends, books about writing by writers: writers whose words of wisdom whack me upside the head and say, “Get a grip, girl! Stop wallowing in self-induced misery and get to work. Here are some of my favorites.
Waiting for your muse to inspire you? Here’s what Stephen King in his book, On Writing, has to say about his muse.
“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down to your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt work while the muse sits and smokes cigars and pretends to ignore you.”
Do you believe in the concept of writers’ block? Humor writer, Dave Barry does not.
“People simply give up and don’t want to put forth the effort to work through the barriers. No good writing is easy. It all has to do with overcoming the obstacles we find in the way of our creativity.”
Mystery writer, Sue Grafton, learned how to handle rejection from her father. She said the most important piece of advice he ever gave her was this:
“Bend with the wind. When disappointments come along, as surely they will, don’t stiffen with bitterness. Be graceful. Submit. Think of yourself as a sapling, yielding to circumstance without cracking or breaking. Bending with the wind allows you to right yourself again when adversity has passed.”
Natalie Goldberg: “Have compassion for yourself when you write. There is no failure – just a big field to wander in.”
Nora Profit: “The fear of rejection is worse than rejection itself.”
Strunk and White, Elements of Style: “Omit needless words.”
Anne Perry: “Put yourself on the page and all that you think and feel about life, but do it with discipline; do it with skill.”
I’ll close with my favorite quote from prolific novelist Elizabeth George. Here’s her advice to aspiring writers in her wonderful book, Write Away.
“You will be published if you possess three qualities—talent, passion and discipline. You will probably be published if you possess two of the three qualities in either combination—either talent and discipline, or passion and discipline. You will likely be published if you possess neither talent nor passion but still have discipline. But if all you posses is talent or passion, if all you possess is talent and passion, you will not be published. The likelihood is you will never be published. And if by some miracle you are published, it will probably never happen again.”
Do you have a favorite writing quote? If so, I’d love to add to my collection. Feel free to comment.