Encouraging Quotes for Discouraged Writers

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Encouraging Quotes for Discouraged Writers

The Writing Cycle blog

Making something from nothing is one of the most challenging endeavors humans engage in. After all, creative efforts are rife with uncertainty; outcomes can rarely be assured. So, how, then, do we sustain momentum on long, iffy projects?

One answer is to look to those who have succeeded – and note how their advice reflects a reverence for purpose, perseverance and process as much as any craft tip or technique. The Writing Cycle has curated these ten encouraging quotes for discouraged writers to read (and re-read) as they work from rough draft to realized dream.

book editor and writing coach

  1. “If you have any talent, any facility for expression, it is your moral obligation to find a way around your doubt and bullshit and do this. Writing is an obligation, not an indulgence. The only question is, did I write today? If so: no other questions.”   Richard Bausch
  2. “You will never be as smart as your subconscious. And there is no substitute for time  the time needed to catch up to what your subconscious mind has laid out on the page.”  — Jill McKorkle
  3. “What determines whether we will succeed as creators is not how intelligent we are, or how talented we are, or how hard we work, but how we respond to the adversity of creation.”   — Kevin Ashton
  4.  “What should you feel confident about? It doesn’t have to be that a given project will succeed. It doesn’t have to be that somehow you can avoid missteps, mistakes, and messes: nobody can avoid any of that, and that isn’t how the process works. What you should be confident about is that you are a legitimate human being with the right to be and the power to create.”  — Eric Maisel
  5. “The truth is that, in worldly terms, someone is always doing better than you are. Someone is always winning more prizes or making more money or getting more famous. When you open the newspaper, someone else’s picture is likely to be splashed across the book page. In the vanity fair, you are always going to lose out to somebody else. And when no one else seems to care what you do, you will have to find your own consolation. You will have to care for yourself. That takes time and energy. In this way, a literary problem converts itself into a spiritual one. Perhaps you will have to invite the demons into the house of the spirit and put them to work. Only in that way will you understand what it means human. You must make an arrangement with yourself for the sake of leaving a record of what happened, of what was thought and felt and noticed, what it was like to be human when you were alive. This is incredibly hard to do…but if you appear faithfully at your desk, pledging yourself to the work, eventually the spirit will descend on you and you will write without any sense that time is passing, and when that happens, no one on earth is doing better than you are.”
    Charles Baxter
  6. “In my late twenties when I was really obsessed with who was winning what award and how was I going to get to the top, my friend Tara Ison used to say “a thoroughbred runs her own race. You just do your own thing. Be happy for other people. Do your best and the rest of it has nothing to do with art. Everything has to do with chaos, chance, luck, and the capricious nature of the literary world.” She’s absolutely right. Don’t do it for the affirmation. Don’t do it for the gratification. Do it for the love of the work, and the feeling of putting something beautiful in the world that no one else could do in quite the same way you just did it. Even if two people read it, that’s enough. That’s the goal, not notoriety.” — Emily Rapp Black
  7. “Writing is not like dancing or modeling; it’s not something where – if you missed it by age 19 – you’re finished. It’s never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, and the right person somehow discovers it, they will clear room for you on the bookshelves of the world – at any age. At least try.”  — Elizabeth Gilbert
  8. “We are tempted to take ourselves too seriously as far as ego recognition goes, in terms of literary prizes, grants, and publications in journals, yet not seriously enough as essential witnesses to our time.” — Melissa Pritchard
  9. “There’s a middle ground between being the voice of your generation and never writing again.”
    Lena Dunham .”
  10. “Write, damn you! What else are you good for?” James Joyce

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Carol Test
Carol Test
CAROL TEST is an award-winning short story writer and former editor-in-chief of Sonora Review. Raised in Phoenix, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and taught fiction workshops at the college level for more than a decade. She currently empowers authors to get works-in-progress publication-ready via The Writing Cycle.
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