5 Motivating Thoughts on Writing by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is a San Francisco writer, historian, and activist. She is the author of twenty books about geography, community, art, politics, hope, and feminism.

Rebecca Solnit says it about writing and does not mince words. Here are a few of her inspiring thoughts on what writing is and how we can write better and from the soul.

1. Write

Rebecca Solnit exhorts you to write. Quite a lot. Because it is practice and effort that leads to bad writing becoming good.

“Write what you most passionately want to write.”

“Write bad stuff because the road to good writing is made out of words and not all of them are well-arranged words.”

2. Typing it out is just a part of the writing process. Often, you think that you need to have a daily word goal. Or a weekly. You forget that writing is not just churning out words. There is a lot that goes into the strengthening of the writing muscle.

“Thinking, researching, contemplating, outlining, composing in your head and in sketches, maybe some typing, with revisions as you go, and then more revisions, deletions, emendations, additions, reflections, setting aside and returning afresh…”

3. Read aplenty, but don’t be influenced by trends. Read a lot to shape your voice and to find your influences. But, be yourself. There is no use going after what is trending and what others are writing, if it does not speak to you deeply.

“Find your own influences… Originality is partly a matter of having your own influences: read evolutionary biology textbooks or the Old Testament, find your metaphors where no one’s looking, don’t belong.”

To not belong is relieving.

4. Listen to others but know when to listen to your soul. You may have to ask for feedback on your writing. Listen to improve and to find new insights. But above all, know yourself and listen to your inner voice.

“Listen to what makes your hair stand on end, your heart melt, and your eyes go wide, what stops you in your tracks and makes you want to live, wherever it comes from, and hope that your writing can do all those things for other people.”

5. Passion and dedication endure, mere talent might not. Unless you live passionately and feel deeply and know that following your joy means obstacles and time, your talent won’t be enough.

“It starts with passion even before it starts with words.”

Dear reader, share the quotes that you find inspiring.

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10 Quotes on Writing and why I find them Inspiring

When I have a few bad writing days at a stretch, I look over at some quotes that inspire me to write again. They remind me of the magic of words and the rhythm of a narrative. The quotes bring me back to that part in me that feels most alive when I write.

1. “And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.”

J. K. Rowling

This for the sheer love for the act itself. Just the feel of being with a notebook and writing for only the sake of it. Creating only for the pleasure of it.

2. “For writing means revealing one self to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind…That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough.”

Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

This speaks to me so eloquently. When in solitude, I find that wringing out one’s soul needs an even deeper state of aloneness.

3. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Anton Chekhov

A classic case of show, don’t tell. Chekhov just told us how to do that and there is an immense delicacy in the act of showing.

4. “Always be a poet, even in prose.”

Charles Baudelaire

I always look for a cadence and a rhythm in prose. Not for me the mere arc of a story; a slice of life, beautifully expressed is enough.

5. “Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.”

Meg Rosoff

When I write, I am mostly concerned with shaping a good sentence, a perfectly framed paragraph and a cogent narrative. And yet, I can recognise a unique voice and it is a priceless gift.

6. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Ernest Hemingway

I have mused over this quote a hundred times and always come away nodding. Isn’t it the beauty of writing that it lets you bare your soul?

7. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

Ray Bradbury

Plenty of writers hear that accusation from others, of being drunk on words, on writing. And of being absorbed in make believe worlds. How can we tell them how euphoric it is?

8. “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.”

Truman Capote

Yes. The inner music. The rhythm that we write to. The cadence that lends itself to our words.

9. “Writing is a very focused form of meditation. Just as good as sitting in a lotus position.”

Alan Moore

Writing as meditation rejuvenates you. It brings you back from the lifeless into the vibrancy of being.

10.” great writers are indecent people

they live unfairly

saving the best part for paper.

good human beings save the world

so that bastards like me can keep creating art,

become immortal.

if you read this after I am dead

it means I made it.”

Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers at Last

How can this list of quotes not feature Bukowski who sometimes mocks life itself and who remains a brutal realist long after his life ended.

Do any of these quotes speak to you? Please share the quotes that you feel inspired by.