Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quotes (and more) for Writers

I love quotes by (and for) writers. Before I bought a laptop, post-it notes with wise words from writer friends decorated my desktop computer. We can learn from them, if we will. We can call on them for encouragement or we can use them as wise counsel. Here are a few interesting quotes for you.

You pay your dues—which takes years. ~Alex Haley

No one knows exactly HOW long but I can tell you with some certainty that it depends on how much you're writing. If you write every day, you'll learn faster; if you're sending your material to publishers, you'll pay your dues a little faster than someone who writes and mails out when the mood hits.

The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea. ~Thomas Mann

An idea isn't a plot and usually doesn't hit us as a full-blown book. I get more ideas than I know what to do with; the hard part is creating a story with a beginning, a middle and an end from that skimpy little idea.

The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense. ~Tom Clancy

Unfortunately, this is too true.

No, it's not a very good story—its author was too busy listening to other voices to listen as closely as he should have to the one coming from inside. ~ Stephen King

This is a wonderful quote by Stephen King and one we should all remember. Who's voice do you hear in your head? Who's screaming at you to watch what you say and how you say it, and telling you that you can't do that? Who are you trying to please?

Nothing leads so straight to futility as literary ambitions without systematic knowledge. ~H.G. Wells

Do we know the correct way to write a novel, short story, poetry? Is that what Wells means by systematic knowledge? Have we educated ourselves in the genre of our choice and about the publishers to whom we wish to submit? There are a hundred different ways we need to educate ourselves in this publishing world.

You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like. ~Phyllis A. Whitney

In a nutshell, learn the rules before you break them, and get used to being pummeled with rejections because that's part of the learning process.

And by the way, 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

Amen and Amen.

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

Good advice but I might love what you will skip and vice versa so what do we learn from this? Anything goes: write from your heart.

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Go for it but realize that it might not find a publishing home--ever. How do you feel about writing two, five, eight books and never selling any of them? Is your love for storytelling so strong and fierce that you don't care whether you sell anything or not? Good! Come share whatever drives you with the rest of us.

BWG is where we find encouragement and fellowship. BWG is our support group. The speakers we bring in, the fellowship we experience once a month or in our weekly critique groups, gives us what we need to continue this path we've chosen.

If you haven't submitted something to the newsletter, please do. You may have words of encouragement someone in our group needs to read.
If you haven't submitted a blog post, please do. Your experiences and thoughts might help someone climb out of their writer's block.
Have you paid your dues? Please do. Someone in BWG might look forward to visiting with you each meeting.

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Solomon, Proverbs 11:14

Bayou Writers' Group is a writer's safe place.

Jessica Roach Ferguson is a novelist, writing instructor, and editor/co-owner of Swamp Lily Review, a journal of Louisiana literature and arts. Because of her husband’s work, she bounces back and forth across the Texas-Louisiana line with one fun jaunt to Scotland. She blogs at


  1. I love quotes too.

    One of the funniest (and truest) ones I've found recently is this:

    "Keep the cursor moving to the right."

    Can't remember who said it, but it's so true. Of course, there's the "Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% not be distracted by the internet."

    Great post!


  2. This is terrific and well thought-out. Thanks.