Friday, February 2, 2018


by Linda Rodriguez

Like most writers, periodically, I struggle with my work. Often it's because of physical health problems. Often, it's because of family issues. Sometimes it's because of the world around me.

Right now, that world around us all is stressful, troubling, and even frightening. In these times of difficulty, I turn to the wisdom of other writers, and so today, I offer to all of us a collection of things that writers who came before us have said about this profession we all share.

A house uncleaned is better than a life unlived.” – Rebecca West

Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” – Jane Yolen

Write all the time. Rework what you write. Hack it to pieces, cut and change. Writing is a self-conducted apprenticeship." – Martha Gellhorn

Don't try to impress or show off. Just tell the story. Tell what happened as you would to a friend.” – Maeve Binchy

Every new book is a challenge and requires different problem-solving for the characters.” – Phyllis A. Whitney

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

"I don't think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won't be good at it." – Anne Lamott

"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." – Flannery O'Connor

You may as well write what you want because there's no predicting what will sell.” – Judith Guest

Fiction writing is a kind of magic, and I don’t care to talk about a novel I’m doing because if I communicate the magic spell, even in an abbreviated form, it loses its force for me. And so many people have talked out to me books they would otherwise have written. Once you have talked, the act of communication has been made.” –- Angus Wilson

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

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

It's the writing that teaches you.” – Isaac Asimov

There are no rules except those you create page by page.” –Stuart Wood

"I take writing terribly seriously, and sometimes that just gets in my way. Writing is about the Shadow, which is about play. I just have to learn that again. And, in my own life, it’s like I can’t learn that I’ll rise to the occasion. I do rise to the occasion, but I’m never sure that’s going to happen." – Sue Grafton

Linda Rodriguez's Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, are her newest books. Dark Sister: Poems will be published in February, 2018. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police chief, Skeet Bannion, will appear in August, 2018, and Revising the Character-Driven Novel will be published in November, 2018. 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 St. Martin's Press/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.

Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at


  1. I LOVE this! My favorite: "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." – Flannery O'Connor


    1. It was one of my favorites, as well, Judy. So true!

  2. great collection of quotes. I'm going to copy all of them in my "write it down so I don't forget it" notebook. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is always next to my laptop.

    1. Margaret, I've been collecting them for years. They're my mentors I turn to in time of trouble and they advise, admonish, and encourage me.

  3. Wisdom and encouragement -- thanks for sharing. <3

  4. Reine and Mary, I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. These are amazing, thanks for sharing!

  6. JM, I'm so glad you liked them. I find them really useful.

  7. My favorite, Judith Guest
    You might as well write what you want... no predicting what will sell...