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40 Timeless Quotes About Writing

40 Timeless Quotes About Writing

You might think writing is easy- that all you need is a writerly instinct and you are good to go. But, having a writerly instinct alone doesn’t make a person a writer. Some of the most gifted writers of our time have tried and failed at writing because it’s a hard business. It lends itself to attacks on your intelligence, emotions, idiosyncrasies, and self-esteem- so you might as well be prepared. Even if you’re an utterly fantastic writer who will be remembered for decades to come, you’ll still receive a good dollop of criticism, rejection, and maybe even mockery before you get there.

George Orwell was rejected several times by publishers for Animal Farm, with Knopf Publishers, in 1945, saying the manuscript was a “stupid and pointless fable.” Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf too upon submitting Lolita, which would later go on to sell 50 million copies. Sylvia Plath’s first rejection letter for The Bell Jar read, “There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.” Gertrude Stein received a cruel rejection letter that mocked her style, and even Jack Kerouac’s perennial classic, On the Road received a blunt rejection letter that simply read, “I don’t dig this one at all.”

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rejection letter

    Arthur C. Fifield who didn’t bother reading the full manuscript for “The Making of Americans,” sent this most poetic rejection letter to novelist Gertrude Stein, who nonetheless went on to become one of the most prominent voices of American Literature. (Image credit: Mental Floss)

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    For those days when you feel dejected, hurt, weary or just a tad quit-y, a good writing quote can remind you of the essence of the craft and uplift your spirit. These timeless quotes about writing will encourage you to keep learning, to keep writing, and to keep striving.

    1. “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” – Harper Lee

    2. “Writing is not figure skating or skiing. Your mother will not make you a writer. My advice to any young person who wants to write is: leave home.” – Paul Theroux

    3. “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” – Dorothy Parker

    4. “If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.” – William Zinsser

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

    6. “Write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.” – Agatha Christie

    7. “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E. L. Doctorow

    8. “The best advice on writing I’ve ever received is to take it seriously, because to do it well is all-consuming.” – David Guterson

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

    10.“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann

    11. “A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” – Sidney Sheldon

    12. “Write while the heat is in you. …The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.” – Henry David Thoreau

    13. “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” – Ray Bradbury

    14. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

    15. “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” – Anne Frank

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

    17. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

    18. “I love my rejection slips, they show me I try.” – Sylvia Plath

    19. “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” – Jack Kerouac

    20. “In general, what is written must be easy to read and easy to speak; which is the same.” – Aristotle

    21. “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

    22. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson

    23. “A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood

    24. “You can make anything by writing.” – C.S. Lewis

    25. “Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences” – Sylvia Plath

    26. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov

    27. “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” – Robert A. Heinlein

    28. “Writers are always selling somebody out.” – Joan Didion

    29. “It’s immoral not to tell.” – Albert Camus

    30. “The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” – Robert Benchley

    31. “So what? All writers are lunatics!” – Cornelia Funke

    32. “Writers aren’t exactly people…. they’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.” – Scott Fitzgerald

    33. “Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.” – Lev Grossman

    34. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso

    35. “I was a late bloomer. But anyone who blooms at all, ever, is very lucky.” – Sharon Olds

    36. “Writers live twice.” – Natalie Goldberg

    37. “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anaïs Nin

    38. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. ” – Benjamin Franklin

    39. “Write what should not be forgotten.” – Isabel Allende

    40. “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” ― Winston S. Churchill

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    More by this author

    David K. William

    David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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