“From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.”— George Orwell, from Why We Write, by Meredith Maran
“… brainstorming helps take the pressure off you, the kind of pressure that comes from trying to imagine too much of your story at once, the kind of pressure that makes you freeze up and give up.”—James Brown, “Journaling - A Stepping Stone”, in WRITERS AND THEIR NOTEBOOKS
“… though she was not beautiful her calmness had the magnetic pull of beauty - a stillness so powerful that the molecules realigned themselves around her when she came into a room.”—THE GOLDFINCH, by Donna Tartt
“The postal service was famously efficient, closer to e-mail than the appropriately nicknamed “snail mail” of today; a letter posted at nine a.m. would reliably find its way to its recipient across town by noon. (The papers of the day were filled with aggrieved letters to the editor complaining about a mailing that took all of six hours to find its destination.)”—THE GHOST MAP, by Steven Johnson
“ll those years I was working, doing journalism and fiction, I would come home from a day of journalism, take a nap, and be able to get two or three hours of fiction writing in. The replenishing thing that comes with a nap — you end up with two mornings in a day.”—From an interview with journalist and novelist Pete Hamill, in Reading, Walking and More Reading for Writer - NYTimes.com
“Fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman stresses the importance of a good name in describing the genesis of his American Gods protagonist. “There’s a magic to names, after all,” he says. “I knew his name [needed to be] descriptive. I tried calling him Lazy, but he didn’t seem to like that, and I called him Jack, and he didn’t like that any better. I took to trying every name I ran into on him for size, and he looked back at me from somewhere in my head unimpressed every time. It was like trying to name Rumpelstiltskin. He finally got his name from an Elvis Costello song … on Bespoke Songs, Lost Dogs, Detours and Rendezvous. It’s performed by Was (Not Was) and is the story of two men named Shadow and Jimmy. I … tried it on for size … ‘… Shadow stretched uncomfortably on his prison cot, and glanced across at the Wild Birds of North America wall calendar, with the days he’d been inside crossed off, and he counted the days until he got out.’ And once I had a name, I was ready to begin.””—via Co.Create
How did I not know about this system? It sounds perfect for my needs - an all-in-one pen and paper system that captures EVERYTHING in one place. Organized but with the flexibility to adapt it any way I like.
“People associate [discipline] with having to do what they’re told. But discipline is quite a lovely word. It comes from the same root as disciple, and it means seeing yourself through the eyes of the teacher who loves you. We have that teacher within ourselves …”—Marion Woodman
“I don’t know which was the chicken and which was the egg, but becoming a writer was very much tied up with taking in this other identity, making up this person who wrote. Lillian was a nice Chinese girl. Gish was not such a nice girl. Gish was the one propping the doors open so I could get back into the dorm at night, the one who got into all kinds of trouble. All these things that were not open to Lilian were open to Gish.”—Gish Jen, in WHY WE WRITE, edited by Meredith Maran
“… people don’t learn to become creative over time or are randomly bestowed the supernatural gift of creativity. Rather, everyone is born creative and actually unlearn it.”—CREATIVE BOOT CAMP, by Stefan Mumaw
“Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.”—From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. Via Flavorwire.
“Second, I did my sweat. That’s a technique I learned in Hollywood, where my scripts were always too long. “This is too long,” the studio would say. “Trim it by eight pages.” But I hated to lose any good stuff — scenes, dialogue exchanges, bits of action — so instead I would go through the script trimming and tightening line by line and word by word, cutting out the fat and leaving the muscle. I found the process so valuable that I’ve done the same with all my books since leaving LA. It’s the last stage of the process. Finish the book, then go through it, cutting, cutting, cutting. It produces a tighter, stronger text, I feel. In the case of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, my sweat — most of it performed after we announced the book’s publication date but before I delivered the final chapters — brought the page count down almost eighty pages all by itself.”—George R.R. Martin, on his editing process. Not A Blog - Talking About the Dance
“I’m devoted to the idea that the use of images can not only transform our experience of time and space, but also has an absolute biological function that is directly tied to an essential state of being which is this: the feeling that life is something worth living.”—Lynda Barry
“I love music. Various pieces have inspired each of the books, and I’m convinced music has had a near magical effect on my creative process. When I sit on planes, or go for walks, or drive and listen to music I can see scenes from the book I’m about to write, or am writing. I can feel the characters. Hear them. Sense them. It’s thrilling. Gamache and Clara and Beauvoir come even more alive when I’m listening to certain music. It’s transformative. Spiritual, even. I can feel the divine in the music.”—Louise Penny, in Acknowledgments, The Beautiful Mystery
“I wondered what I’d learned, and found myself remembering something Gene Wolfe had told me, six months earlier. “You never learn how to write a novel,” he said. “You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.””—Neil Gaiman, on finishing American Gods
“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.”—Silas, in Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book
As we continue hunting for exoplanets, it’s only a matter of time until we make the groundbreaking discovery of an Earth-mass world orbiting its sun-like star within the habitable zone — the distance from a star where water may exist in a liquid state.
“Absolutely – you reach out and it’s there. The time that it happened the clearest was when Ralph, my agent then, said to me ‘This is a bit crazy, but do you have any kind of idea for something that could be a serialised novel like Dickens used to do?’, and I had a story that was sort of struggling for air. That was The Green Mile. And I knew if I did this I had to lock myself into it. I started writing it and I stayed ahead of the publication schedule pretty comfortably. Because…” he hesitates, tries to explain in a way that doesn’t sound foolish, “…every time I needed something that something was right there to hand.
“When John Coffey goes to jail – he was going to be executed for murdering the two girls. I knew that he didn’t do it , but I didn’t know that the guy who did do it was going to be there, didn’t know anything about how it happened, but when I wrote it, it was all just there for me. You just take it. Everything just fits together like it existed before.
“I never think of stories as made things; I think of them as found things. As if you pull them out of the ground, and you just pick them up. Someone once told me that that was me low-balling my own creativity. That might or might not be the case. But still, on the story I am working on now, I do have some unresolved problem. It doesn’t keep me awake at nights. I feel like when it comes down, it will be there…”
“Hope is an essential thread in the fabric of all fantasies, an Ariadne’s thread to guide us out of the labrynth … Human beings have always needed hope, and surely now more than ever.”—Lloyd Alexander, from The Wand in the Word
I love this idea of making my own Creativity Machine! It’s basically a DIY prompt generator, but finetuned to your own preferences. There are so many different categories I can think up for writing purposes.
This is the most crucial key to entering flow. Put all thought of audience aside for the time being and find something pleasurable about what you’re trying to create. If it’s not fun, figure out why not and make it more engaging for yourself. There’s nothing trivial about fun, as I’ve found in my talks with great creative individuals. It’s one of the many motivators that bring them back to the work they do, day in and day out.