As artists, we often need encouragement when we work. I’m not talking about having a team of cheerleaders beside us, screaming our names as we feverishly type or slash brushstrokes across the canvas, though that might help the more extroverted artists among us. I’m talking about the kind of encouragement that inspires us to keep slugging through those drafts even when we feel that there’s no hope for our piece.
I stumbled on advicetowriters.com a few months back. A man named Jon Winokur took his time compiling quotations from famous writers about writing. These quotations come in the form of inspiration, admonishments, and warnings. It might be just the resource for those of us who need a reminder that writing is hard, that we won’t get it right every time—but, despite this, the most important thing is that we keep trying. Jon Winokur updates the site with a new quotation every day so that, when you inevitably scroll passed the first few quotations and find yourself digging for a solution to your terrible writing in the dredges of the site, fear not—tomorrow, there will be another quotation to inspire you.
For example, a quote of the day by Wallace Stegner: “If you have to urge a writing student to ‘gain experience with life,’ he is probably never going to be a writer. Any life will provide the material for writing, if it is attended to.” See what I mean? You have what it takes already, in case you needed a reminder.
Here’s another quotation for the would-be writer who just can’t get that first draft done because it isn’t perfect—this one by Syd Field: “Write from your heart and don’t be afraid to write shitty pages. You can’t change something from nothing. Get it down on paper first, no matter what it looks like.”
So, unless you’re one of the few among us doesn’t need the occasional pick-me-up advice, give advicetowriters.com a try. I often check out the quote of the day before each of my writing sessions, just so I know I’m not alone in the universe of creative writing.
A final thought from Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Dillard: “One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now.”