I’m a great lover of quotations. I once compiled a book of quotations on all aspects of health and called it Words of Wellness: A Treasury of Quotations for Well-Being. It was published in 1991, before the Internet and search engines burst onto the world scene. Today a person can find any type of quotation on the Internet within seconds. I sometimes browse the Internet to see what other writers have said about writing. Today I found six quotes that coincided perfectly with my thoughts. The seventh and final quote is the only one I didn’t find today, I came across it many years ago.
“Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don’t try to perfect as you go along, just get to the end of the damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back. If you try to polish every sentence there’s a chance you’ll never get past the first chapter.” –Iain Banks
“How do you write? You write, man, you write, that’s how:If you practice an art faithfully it will make you wise, and most writers can use a little wising up.” –William Saroyan
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in the human condition.” –Graham Greene
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”–Joan Didion
“When I finish a first draft, it’s always just as much of a mess as it’s always been.” –Michael Chabon
“The writer learns to write, in the last resort, only by writing. He must get words onto paper even if he is dissatisfied with them. A young writer must cross many psychological barriers to acquire confidence in his capacity to produce good work–especially his first full-length book–and he cannot do this by staring at a piece of blank paper, searching for the perfect sentence.” –Paul Johnson
And lastly, I came across the following quote a few decades ago. E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and co-author with William Strunk of The Elements of Style, was stuck on a story as a cub reporter for the Seattle Times in the early 1920s. He approached his editor, a Mr. Johns, and asked how he could get unstuck. Johns thought for a moment and replied, “Just say the words.”
Whenever I get bogged down trying to express a word, sentence or thought, I think of the advice given to E.B. White and, just like magic, it gets me going again.