Inspirational Writing Quotations

I woke up this morning and wrote, which I haven’t been able to do for a long time. I shouldn’t have done it, probably, there are many more pressing things that have to get done, but I’m so glad I did. I wish I could hang on to this feeling and write every day, regardless of what else has been going on.

I’ve been collecting inspiration writing quotations for quite a while now so I thought now might be a good time to finally share… these are quotations that inspire me in my own writing, maybe they will speak to you somehow too :).


“… a writer is very like a witch. With her cat, making magic with words. And maybe changing the world, just a little.” – Theodora Goss

“It’s magic – it’s not about magic, it’s not like magic: It IS magic. It’s real magic. […] Incantations, spells, ceremonies, rituals – what are they? They’re poems. So, what’s a poet? He’s a shaman, that’s what he is. A fucking good poem is a weapon. Not like a pop gun. It’s like a bomb. A bloody big bomb.” – Ted Hughes


“I believe that Magic is Art and Art, whether it be music, writing, sculpture or any other, is literally magic. Art, like any magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness… Indeed to cast a spell is simply to manipulate words, to change people’s consciousness, and this is why I believe that an artist or a writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a Shaman.” – Alan Moore

“Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.” – Carl Sandburg

“We write to heighten our own awareness of life. We write to lure and enchant and console others. We write to serenade our lovers. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. We write to expand our world when we feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely . . . When I don’t write, I feel my world shrinking. I feel I am in prison. I feel I lose my fire and my color. It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave, and I call it breathing.” – Anais Nin


“Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.” – Ernest Hemingway

“So long as I have questions to which there are no answers, I shall go on writing.” – Clarice Lispector

“It’s all things mythic, fantastic, supernatural, as well as “the real” that combine in such a way that I feel represents the universe/world best for me, personally. Every time I begin writing a story that seems mostly realistic, at some point it takes a turn into one or more of these other modes of seeing and thinking, and I think it’s because “the real” is not enough to encompass all that I see and want to articulate in my writing. There is a writer named Michelle Richmond who blurbed my second book, and when I saw what she wrote about it, I felt she had expressed my mode of writing more succinctly than I have been able to so far, so I’ll quote her here: “Christopher Barzak spins the familiar yarn of the everyday world into a magical universe.” It’s the familiar encompassed by a much bigger and magical universe that does indeed attract me as a way of seeing and writing.” -Christopher Barzak


“One of the biggest, and possibly the biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer — I’ve said this from a slightly different angle in another answer — is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you’re going to manage to get down on paper. (And if you ever think otherwise, then you’ve turned into an arrogant self-satisfied prat, and should look for another job or another avocation or another weekend activity.) So you have to learn to live with the fact that you’re never going to write well enough. Of course that’s what keeps you trying — trying as hard as you can — which is a good thing. As I started off saying, writing takes practice.” – Robin McKinley

“Fantasy is not antirational, but pararational; not realistic but surrealistic, a heightening of reality. In Freud’s terminology, it employs primary not secondary process thinking. It employs archetypes which, as Jung warned us, are dangerous things. Fantasy is nearer to poetry, to mysticism, and to insanity that naturalistic fiction is. It is a wilderness, and those who go there should not feel too safe.” – Ursula Le Guin


“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan

“[Poetry] was a form of incantation, a means of welding the world inside his head to the one that surrounded him, words the fiery chain that bound it all together.” – From Radiant Days by Elizabeth Hand

“I have tried to write stories that go into the underworld of myth and bring out life and fire — where the old world looked at a woman alone and immortal and said: she must long to die, I have tried to say: look at her live!” – Catherynne M. Valente

“Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence? I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds. Open your doors and look abroad. From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before. In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years.” – Rabindranath Tagore

“[My characters are] conglomerations of past and present stages of civilization, bits from books and newspapers, scraps of humanity, rags and tatters of fine clothing, patched together as is the human soul” – August Strindberg

“Artistically, [success] means getting as much truth and fondness for life as I can into a story without becoming sentimental — making a beautiful weird little life-evoking machine out of words.” – George Saunders


“… I thought I wouldn’t write a _poem_, but just write what I wanted to without fear, let my imagination go, open secrecy, and scribble magic lines from my real mind…” – Allen Ginsberg

“Now I see at last, Kostya, that in our kind of work, whether we’re writers or actors, the important thing is not fame, or glory, not what I used to dream about, but learning how to endure. I must bear my cross, and have faith. If I have faith, it doesn’t hurt so much, and when I think of my calling I’m not afraid of life.” – Nina in “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov


As you can see, I’m especially fond of equating writing with working magic because that’s precisely how I see it. I’d love to know what quotations have inspired you?

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