The Saturday Writing Quote — King on writing

I just reread Stephen King’s On Writing, which I first read when it came out in 2000. It’s a perennial on writers’ lists of favorite craft books for good reason. It might sound odd for a cozy mystery writer who’s more than a tad squeamish to admire a horror writer and be inspired by him, but I do and I am. For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite quotes from On Writing.

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair—the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.” (P. 106)

(Cover image from the 2010 anniversary edition.)

 

The Saturday Writing Quote — on practice

“Everything in life worth achieving requires practice. In fact, life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort of refining our motions. When the proper mechanics of practicing are understood, the task of learning something new becomes a stress-free experience of joy and calmness, a process which settles all areas of your life and promotes proper perspectives on all of life’s difficulties.”

– Thomas Sterner, Swedish economist, quoted by David Allen in Getting Things Done (rev ed 2015)

The Saturday Writing Quote – on finding motivation

A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.

-Jorge Luis Borges, Argentinian writer (1899-1986) (hat-tip – PJ Coldren)

The Saturday Writing Quote — on staying motivated

Under a Dark Sky: A Novel by [Rader-Day, Lori]

“The boss is happy when the words are written. Sure, she gives out hearty handshakes when other things get done, but she only gives raises when the words get done, when the edits are made and sent back to the press, when the publicist’s emails have been answered. She doesn’t care as much when the Facebook status is updated or the Twitter account is humming. All of it is business, but some of it is in the mission statement, and some of it isn’t.”

Lori Rader-Day, award-winning author of The Day I Died, Under a Dark Sky, and other novels

Saturday Writing Quote — JFK on the arts

“We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth… In free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society — in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation.”

— President John F. Kennedy, in a speech at Amherst honoring poet Robert Frost (whose daughter was married to the mayor of my childhood town!)

The Saturday Writing Quote — Joseph Campbell

The weekly quote is back, after a summer vacation and some technical glitches. Alas, the glitches continue, but we shall persevere, right? Because above all, that’s what artists do.

Fall, as much as January, is the time for new projects, or new approaches to our work. And so I give you this quote from the master of insight.

“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

—Joseph Campbell