12 quotations that perfectly describe the writer’s life

To get an idea of what it’s like to write for a living, turn to those who can turn a phrase.

Now that he’s in his teen years, my son and I have been having more serious conversations about his choice of career. (“More serious” means he no longer wants to be an astronaut paleontologist.)

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about writing careers. From corporate communications to book editing, there are plenty of career options for people who love to write—but I also want him to understand what it’s like to write for a living.

Here are a few quotations from writers that perfectly tell the tales behind our craft. See if you can relate:

  1. “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen), and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”—Neil Gaiman
  2. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”—Isaac Asimov
  3. “I never write ‘metropolis’ for seven cents when I can write ‘city’ and get paid the same.”—Mark Twain
  4. “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”—Anne Lamott
  5. “The fact is that writing is hard work, and sometimes you don’t want to do it, and you can’t think of what to write next, and you’re fed up with the whole damn business. Do you think plumbers don’t feel like that about their work from time to time? Of course there will be days when the stuff is not flowing freely. What you do then is make it up.”—Philip Pullman
  6. “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”—George Orwell
  7. “For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”—Catherine Drinker Bowen
  8. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”—Lawrence Block
  9. “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent, he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”—Harper Lee
  10. “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”—Ray Bradbury
  11. “The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them—words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out.”—Stephen King
  12. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”—Thomas Mann

What quotations would add to the list, PR Daily readers?

This post was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.


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