Friday, November 4, 2016

Turning to Other Writers for Inspiration

by Linda Rodriguez

Periodically, I get a little burned-out from working too long and hard without a break. I start to face resistance when I sit down to write. I have developed several techniques for dealing with this, but the first one I always try—and one that usually works—is to turn to what other writers have written about the trials and tribulations of writing.

So I look at what other writers have written about resistance, about finding themselves reluctant to sit down and write, even when that's what they most want to do. Many writers have written about this topic because this state is one that every writer finds herself or himself in sooner or later. As I go down the long list of writers who have written about this miserable place to find yourself, the first thing I encounter is a very wise statement from science fiction writer, Kameron Hurley.

"If I quit now I will soon go back to where I started. And when I started, I was desperate to get to where I am now." – Kameron Hurley

I realize, as I read, that the problem at bottom is always fear, no matter what else is also involved. Yes, I'm tired and need a little break and some recreational reading or activity that will help restore and replenish my well of creativity, but always, lurking for moments of exhaustion and weakness, is the writer's bane, fear. And I find a great writer there before me, as well.

"The work is greater than my fear." –Audre Lord

So, for the next time you find yourself burned-out and exhausted and coming up empty when you sit down to write here are more helpful quotations from writers about the process.

Discipline is simply remembering what you want.” – Judith Claire Mitchell

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L'Amour

Work is the only answer.” –Ray Bradbury

"A word after a word after a word is power."–Margaret Atwood

"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” — Terry Pratchett

The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying. ,,, This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us." – Steven Pressfield

Have you got some favorite quotations from writers that help you in such a situation?

Linda Rodriguez's book, Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, forthcoming Nov. 29, is based on her popular workshop. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery featuring Cherokee campus police chief, Skeet Bannion, is due in June, 2017. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret—and her books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film. Find her on the web at


  1. I really love this one because it fits my struggle so well and is a great reminder: "The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” — Terry Pratchett

    On my Pinterest board, I've posted a lot of my favorite writers' quotes, but one that pops out often is "The road to hell is paved with works in progress.

  2. I love your quote, Kimberly! So true. I actually keep a very long list of writers' quotations and just selected the few that seemed to speak to this situation for the post.