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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 January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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