My Favourite Quotes from Several Short Sentences About Writing

My Favourite Quotes from Several Short Sentences About Writing

Page 45:

A cliché is dead matter.

It causes gangrene in the prose around it, and sooner or later it eats your brain.

Page 57:

Many people assume there’s an inherent conflict between creativity and a critical, analytic awareness of the medium you work in.

They assume that the creative artist works unconsciously and that knowing too much about matters like grammar and syntax diminishes or blunts creativity.

This is nonsense. You don’t need to be an expert in grammar and style to write well.

Page 68:

The difficulty of writing isn’t a sign of failure.

It’s simply the nature of the work itself.

For the writer, flow” is a trap.

So is any word that suggests that writing is a spontaneous emission.

Writing doesn’t flow, unless you’re plagiarizing or collecting clichés or enlisting volunteer sentences.

Page 80:

One of the few sad parts about writing is that it’s almost impossible to surrender to the manipulation of your own prose.

Page 89:

A belief that the writer’s real work is making newness out of nothing.

As if creativity only takes place where the ink stops and the blank page begins.

Where the cursor starts blinking.

As if newness couldn’t originate between sentences or within a sentence.

As if revision were essentially secondary and uncreative.

Page 100:

Resist the temptation to start organizing and structuring your thoughts too soon,

Boxing them in, forcing them into genre-based containers.

Postpone the search for order, for the single line through the piece.

Let your thoughts overlap and collide and see what they dislodge.

Page 100:

How do you begin to write?

Look for a sentence that interests you.

A sentence that might begin the piece.

Don’t look too hard.

Page 103:

The piece is now two sentences long.

Not two sentences plus the missing pages that haunt you.

Page 117:

Writing doesn’t prove anything,

And it only rarely persuades.

It does something much better.

It attests.

It witnesses.

It shares your interest in what you’ve noticed.

It reports on the nature of your attention.

Page 121:

Novels contain far less chronological narrative than you think.

Take a page from almost any novelist.

Look carefully at each sentence.

How many propel the story forward in time?

And how many are devoted to enriching our sense of place and character?

Page 134:

Discipline is nothing more than interest and expectation, a looking forward.

It’s never hard to work when you’re interested in what you’re working on.

My Favourite Quotes: Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead

My Favourite Quotes: Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead

These might not be in order. And because I read on a Kobo, I have no idea what pages” they’re from. But I loved this book and highlighted many passages.

  • The result is a neat stack of golden proportions
  • Set the wheels in motion. Punish the culprits. Change the law.
  • The most precious memories will dissipate. Everything will sink into darkness and vanish. I noticed a pregnant girl sitting on a beach, reading a newspaper, and suddenly it occurred to me what a blessing it is to be ignorant. How could one possibly know all this and not miscarry?
  • I don’t share your trust in the authorities.
  • I find this division of people into three groups — skiers, allergy sufferers and drivers — very convincing. It is a good, straightforward typology. Skiers are hedonists. They are carried down the slopes. Whereas drivers prefer to take their fate in their hands, although their spines often suffer as a result; we all know life is hard. Whereas the allergy sufferers are always at war. I must surely be an allergy sufferer
  • In any case, I know the date of my own death, and that lets me feel free.
  • Try to keep your theory to yourself. It’s highly improbable and it could do you harm,’ said Oddball,”
  • Dizzy was adamant that it must have been Murder. Every instinct is telling me. We were the first on the scene. Do you remember the sense of crime that was hanging in the air?’
  • He accepted the near full tumbler of vodka proffered by the Dentist and downed it in one. I was sure he wouldn’t feel any pain after that much anaesthetic.”
  • Later that day I thought about his drawer again, about how peeping into it brought me total calm, and how I would really like to be one of those useful Utensils.
  • I blinked. I had never heard one woman referring to another as my wife’ before. But I liked it.”
  • I’m going home. I’ve run out of strength.