My favorite writing mantras…What are yours?

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

I've really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on writing this week! I'll tie the series up tomorrow with a short post on publishing. In the meantime, let's talk about the creative process...

Above my desk I’ve assembled some of my favorite writing quotes, reminders, and mantras.

These include: 

  • Trust yourself
  • “Simplify, Simplify” – Henry David Thoreau 
  • TRUTH / DETAILS (sight, sound, smell taste, touch) / HUMOR / HOPE - I try to include these things in every chapter 
  •  “It has to get messy before it can be cleaned” – something my mom used to say about deep-cleaning the house, which applies to the writing process as well
  •  Can they relate? - referring to readers
  •  “…Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” - Sylvia Plath; this really helped me through the writing of my first book.
  •  BETTER words, ACTIVE verbs, STRONG metaphors - When I’m editing, I use this like a checklist for each paragraph
  •  Patience 
  • Empty frame -  “All I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame…to figure out a one-inch piece of my story to tell, one small scene, one memory, one exchange.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird  
  • Turtle – slow and steady wins the race 

Other Favorite Mantras...

  •  Be Obedient to the Work - “…The artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something small, comes to the artist and says, 'Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.'…The artist must be obedient to the command of the work, knowing that this involves long hours of research, of throwing out a month’s work, of going back to the beginning, or sometimes, scrapping the whole thing.” – Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
  • “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain

Your turn! What reminders are stuck above your desk? Do you have any favorite writng mantras?

End of article logo.

Shareable Permalink

© 2011 All rights reserved.
Copying and republishing this article on other Web sites without written permission is prohibited.
Browse articles with tag: writing