by Pamela Helberg
Writing is hard. Just a quick look at some of my favorite quotes about writing confirms this:
- If I waited til I felt like writing, I’d never write at all. Anne Tyler
- Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. Mark Twain
- A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. Thomas Mann
- There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Ernest Hemingway
- Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open. Natalie Goldberg
- There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. Somerset Maugham
- Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Anne Lamott
- 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. Neil Gaiman
- I hate writing. I love having written. Dorothy Parker
- The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink. T.S. Eliot
- Writing is hard work and bad for the health. E.B. White
So, given that it’s so terrible, why do we do it? I mean, I spent the entire last three days agonizing over a research paper for a class. It had to be done if I want to get credit and graduate and launch my new career. But why else? Lots of people write who aren’t in graduate school. What drives them to the blank page, the shining empty screen?
I think Maya Angelou said it best when she said “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”
And Anais Nin said “we write to taste life twice: in the moment and in retrospect.”
Others have said similar things: I write to find out what I know (Cheryl Strayed); I write or I will go mad (Lord Byron). I write for the same reason I breathe, because if I didn’t I would die (Isaac Asimov). A word after a word after a word is power (Margaret Atwood). A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. (Franz Kafka) Writers are desperate people, and when they stop being desperate, they stop being writers. (Charles Bukowski)
We have to do it. We make sense of our world by writing down our thoughts, by dumping our brains onto paper and into our computers and picking through what lands, sorting the words and the sentiments into something coherent, something we can share. Maybe we write to just scratch that itch, or maybe we write because we don’t feel safe speaking our thoughts. Perhaps we’ve been silenced or shushed. Maybe writing is our way of processing so we can talk.
Whatever your reasons, whatever your pull, dear friends who suffer from this terrible affliction, this dangerous compulsion, pick up your pens and write. Write like a motherfucker! (Cheryl Strayed)
Author’s (haiku) bio:
Pam’s a therapist-
in-training. Runner, writer,
Mother, black sheep, friend
You can find other
musings by Pam on her blog
which can be found here.
I love the quote from Maya Angelou. That is exactly how I feel about writing my memoir. It is a story that has taken a lifetime to think about and now the task is to make it relevant to someone else. Thank you for your good writing.
Yes, like Nancy said. And that’s why we read others’ good writing–it’s a pleasure that pays us back for the angst of producing good writing. Well done, Pam.
Writers struggle so readers won’t.
Well said through many quotes, painstakingly compiled for those of us who need that perfect reason to write or not. Thanks, Pam
Thank you for this, Pam. Some days the writing is particularly hard and it helps that others understand. (what are you two doing up so early? Or late, as the case may be?)
Never mind. The time is off – I posted at 7:16 am and it says 2:16 pm.
Thank you dearest Pam.You magically shared all my favorite writers quotes. Well not alll. And made them into a hail mary pass for RWB. Nicely done!
Thanks Pam! True and wonderful quotes and ponderings from writer to writer.
Thanks Victoria. That was fun to write. And ponder. 🙂