Encouraging Words

When I start a session of my writers group, I offer a page or two of quotations from other writers that are meant to inspire, provoke discussion or help us feel that we are not so alone; that the problems and peccadilloes that plague us (oooh! alliteration!) are, usually, shared symptoms of a creative life.

Here are this sessions quotes:

It was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.      –Socrates


When you’re writing, you’re conjuring. It’s a ritual and you need to be brave and respectful and sometimes get out of the way of whatever it is that you’re inviting into the room.                                                                                 –Tom Waits


The narrative of life is most beautiful when told truthfully and without boundaries. Boundaries don’t keep other people out. They fence you in.

                                                                        –Shondra Rhimes


A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.

                                                                        – Sidney Sheldon


Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.

                                                                        –Truman Capote


Satire is people as they are; romanticism people as they would like to be; realism people as they seem with their insides left out.        –Dawn Powell


Eavesdrop. Listen to the way people speak, but pay special attention to their silence.

                                                                        –Virginia Woolf


My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world, and exiles me from it.                                               –Ursula K. LeGuin


Let your performance do the thinking.      –Charlotte Bronte


I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.

                                                                        –Jorge Luis Borges


This is my letter to the world that never wrote to me.

                                                                        –Emily Dickinson


Teach yourself to work in uncertainty. If the stories come, you get them written, you’re on the right track. Eventually everyone learns his or her own best way. The real mystery to crack is you.                                        –Bernard Malamud


Learn to love yourself, be gentle with yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude towards ourselves can we have the right attitudes towards others.                                                                        – Wilfred Peterson, author of The Art of  Living (suggested by Kevin Stokker) 


 It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.

                                                                        –C.J. Cherryh


To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  So do it.                                                                         –Kurt Vonnegut               


In creating this list, I intentionally cast a wide net. I want to include writers who are among my personal favorites (you can do this when you’re in charge), those who may be familiar to the group and a few whose words are marvelously apt.

I find these quotes in my reading, as well as on the Internet. I’m aware that these statements may be out of context, or, possibly, misattributed.

But the words work.




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