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An Inspirational New Year

If you’re an aspiring writer you are almost certainly not alone in approaching a new year with renewed determination; determined to be inspired, find your muse and crank out that bestseller you know you have within you.

Set Your World On Fire by Boy_WonderBut perhaps all too often you feel yourself agreeing with Neil Gaiman when he says that “being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” Or maybe you can sympathise with George Orwell in that “writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness.”

It’s true that many a writer would agree with Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing, I love having written,” or nod at Kurt Vonnegut, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

So it would be wise to take Jack London’s words to heart. “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

You therefore pick up pen or keyboard determined to, as Gaiman puts it, “make good art” and follow Ray Bradbury’s advice to “write every single day of your life.”

Knights Battling by Anagram BookshopYou come to the conclusion that you agree with Tolstoy, that “the best stories don’t come from ‘good vs. bad’ but ‘good vs. good.’” You vow to be concise. As Thomas Jefferson says, “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

And as you become stuck along the way, you remember the advice of Terry Pratchett, in that “there’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”

In trying to make your novel mean something, you realise, like Lloyd Alexander that “fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”

You are filled with doubts but like William Faulkner you vow to “get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”

But try as you might to set schedules for yourself, you find yourself agreeing with Douglas Adams – “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Eventually, the novel will be complete and you will find yourself feeling like Truman Capote when he said that “finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.”

2:00 AM by any-s-kill“Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten, Including your own” Michael Crichton tells you. “It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”

Finally you will send your masterpiece off, hoping for publication but remembering John Scalzi’s words – “Engrave this in your brain: EVERY WRITER GETS REJECTED. You will be no different.”

Rather than get disheartened you take to heart the words of Edgar Rice Burroughs, that “if you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”

If truth be told, no-one can know your process but you. As W. Somerset Maugham advises, “there are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

So maybe after all this, you end up concurring with Ernest Hemingway. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Title image by EvasPhotogarden .

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6 Comments

  1. Mary says:

    Great quotes :) My biggest hope is that I don’t have to use this one too often in the coming year:

    “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” -Douglas Adams

  2. Mark says:

    Really enjoyed this.

  3. Khaldun says:

    Great collection of quotes. Love the one by Kurt Vonnegut. “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

  4. [...] at Fantasy Faction at the weekend, they published my latest article for them, An Inspirational New Year. I have to be honest and say I was a bit worried how this one would be received, given that [...]

  5. Julia Hughes says:

    Of all those comments, I love Terry Prachett’s observation – “Writer’s block was invented by people in California.” One thing you didn’t mention about writing: It expands the waist if you’re not careful!

  6. James says:

    Thank god. Mentioning no names, there are writers forums where no one dares speak of weakness. To say you’re struggling is an invitation to subtly expressed sentiments of “Well, you never had a chance anyway.”

    Personally I struggle A LOT with writing. I love it, but that’s what makes it so painful when I can’t do it as I’d like.

    “They” say that the best writers find it hard. I always remember that. Although I still despair on the days or weeks or longer when I’m getting nowhere.

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