The time to write has come, and you’ve got your pen in hand or Word doc at the ready– only to become paralyzed by the blank page before you.
You start to panic, and your thoughts go every which way; Am I even a writer? Why am I not inspired? Is this the infamous writer’s block?
Let’s hit pause on the overthinking for a second. We’ve all been there. Writing is a practice and a process, which means it doesn’t always go as smoothly as we imagine.
Everyone has their own unique writing flow, and part of that process is figuring out what yours is.
But that can be hard if you’re not feeling particularly inspired. And let’s face it; writing inspiration doesn’t strike when it’s most convenient, as much as we wish it did. It’s a skill writers build over time.
For starters, showing yourself some grace and self-compassion is an underrated tool for living the writing life that you dream of. You won’t summon creative inspiration by bullying and tormenting yourself—unless you’re into that (We don’t judge!).
Instead, try cultivating the conditions that allow your creativity to flow. Some writers like to immerse themselves in nature. Others like to warm up with some writing prompts. But most humans are inspired by– you guessed it– other human beings.
This may seem vague, but it’s a perfect launching point if you need writing inspiration. You can read other creative writing pieces. You can hang out in a public space and take an “art imitates life” approach.
But my favourite source of creative inspiration comes in easily sharable bite-sized pieces: quotes about writing.
If you’re feeling stuck with your craft, these writing quotes are a comforting reminder that even famous writers have been there, too. And if they can get through it, so can you.
“When you're writing, you're creating something out of nothing… A successful piece of writing is like doing a successful piece of magic.”
– Susanna Clarke
“You never know, of course, when you write a book what its fate will be. Sink out of sight, soar to the sun— who knows.
– Frances Mayes
“Gather your own thoughts, write down ideas, observe people around you, and reflect on experiences. Working doesn't always mean putting words on paper.”
– Barbara DeMarco-Barrett
“Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story. “Once.”
– Traci Chee
"Write down what I think / I know. The knowing will come. / Just keep listening….”
– Jacqueline Woodson
“I write lustily and humorously. It isn't calculated; it's the way I think. I've invented a writing style that expresses who I am.”
– Erica Jong
“When I am silent, I have thunder hidden inside.”
“There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”
– Oscar Wilde
“You are lucky to be one of those people who wish to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander.
– Anne Lamott
“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
– Virginia Woolf
We write to taste life twice; in the moment and in retrospect.”
– Anais Nin
“If I take the writing deep enough, something larger and greater than myself will flash forth and illuminate me, heal me. I do want to devour my demons—despair, grief, shame, fear—and use them to nourish my art. Otherwise, they’ll devour me."
— Sandra Cisneros
“When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape.”
– Louise Erdrich
“I am going to write fire until it comes out of my ears, my eyes, my noseholes– everywhere. Until it's every breath I breathe. I'm going to go out like a fucking meteor!”
– Audre Lorde
"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously...Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk their life to read them.”
– Edwidge Danticat
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”
– Walt Whitman
“I want to give you something, or I want to take something from you. But I want to feel the exchange, the warm hand on the shoulder, the song coming out, and the ear holding onto it.”
– Ada Limon
“For me, the writing life doesn’t just happen when I sit at the writing desk. It is a life lived with a centering principle, and mine is this: that I will pay close attention to this world I find myself in.
– Julia Alvarez
“Don't deny the past. Remember everything. If you're bitter, be bitter. Cry it out! Scream! Denial is gangrene.”
– Joy Kogawa
“I understood that I was inventing myself, and that I was doing this more in the way of a painter than in the way of a scientist. I could not count on precision or calculation; I could only count on intuition.”
– Jamaica Kincaid
“I have forced myself to begin writing when I've been utterly exhausted, when I've felt my soul as thin as a playing card…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.”
– Joyce Carol Oates
“All which I feel I must write has become obsessive. So many truths seem to be rushing at me as the result of things felt and seen and lived through. Oh, what I think I must tell this world.”
– Lorraine Hansberry
“Whatever you have to say, leave
The roots on, let them
And the dirt
Just to make clear
Where they come from.”
– Charles Olson
“To write as if your life depended on it; to write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public the words you have dredged; sieved up in dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence– words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist.”
– Adrienne Rich
“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
– Sylvia Plath
I write because I'm scared of writing, but I'm more scared of not writing.”
– Gloria Anzaldúa
“I am alone here in my own mind/There is no map/and there is no road./It is one of a kind/just as yours is.”
– Anne Sexton
"If you haven’t surprised yourself, you haven’t written.”
– Eudora Welty
“If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.”
– Natalie Goldberg
“This book, when I am dead, will be
A little faint perfume of me.
People who knew me well will say,
She really used to think that way.”
– Edna St. Vincent Millay
“You need some place to work in. That's the door half open. Your work is carved out of agony as a statue is carved out of marble.”
– Louise Bogan
"All writers feel struck by the limitations of language.”
– Margaret Atwood
"Ignore all advice about writing. Leave your blood on every page. Every page!"
– Miriam Toews
“Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.”
– Ann Patchett
“To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”
– Anne Rice
I do not like to write— I like to have written.”
– Gloria Steinem
“…It took me some years to discover what I was, which was a writer. By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.”
– Joan Didion
The greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make.
– Truman Capote
“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamouring to become visible.
– Vladimir Nabakov
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”
– Terry Pratchett
"There’s always a daily challenge when one goes into one’s studio to write. And the bravest thing, I think, for a writer is to face an empty page.’
– Nuruddin Farah
“Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things—childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves—that go on slipping, like sand, through our fingers.”
– Salman Rushdie
"She had always wanted words; she loved them, grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
– Michael Ondaatje
“I can’t remember a time I didn’t make up stories. I don’t think I called it writing.
– Alice Munro
“Open the book. (The gilt rubs off the edges of the pages and pollinates the fingertips.)”
– Elizabeth Bishop
“There are so many things to study, new books to read, and certainly always ways to transform old ideas and to come up with new ones.”
– Patti Smith
“Language is what eases the pain of living with other people, language is what makes the wounds come open again.”
– Anne Carson
“That which is profound never lends itself to logical explanation: it involves endless mystery.”
– Soetsu Yanagi
“Maybe the true purpose of my life is for my body, my sensations and my thoughts to become writing, in other words, something intelligible and universal, causing my existence to merge into the lives and heads of other people.”
– Annie Ernaux
“The unsaid, for me, exerts great power...”
– Louise Gluck
“Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”
– William Shakespeare
“Writing is an extreme privilege, but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself, and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.”
– Amy Tan