Ten Quotes to Sustain Us

I don’t know about you, but from where I sit in the Midwest, this has been a long, hard winter. Spring keeps delaying its arrival. The writing life can be like that. It can give us gray days, isolation, disappointment, and downright gloom. We all know a life spent writing is full of peaks and valleys, but sometimes we tend to forget that coming down usually means an eventual upturn. We fall prey to our own insecurities and doubts. We lose our focus. We can even lose our joy. Here, then, are ten quotes about writing to sustain us while we wait for spring to come:


“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke


“Writing is its own reward.”
~ Henry Miller


“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
~William Faulkner


“And by the way, 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


“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”

~ R.L. Stine


“. . . if you appear faithfully at your desk, pledging yourself to the work, eventually the spirit will descend on you and you will write without any sense that time is passing, and when that happens, no one on earth is doing better than you are.”
~ Charles Baxter


“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

~ George Eliot


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

~ Agatha Christie


“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”
~ Ray Bradbury


“None of us suddenly becomes something overnight. The preparations have been in the making for a lifetime.”

~ Gail Godwin


Last week a neighbor and his dog walked by our house, and we were so excited to see them (we’ve had a stretch of illness in our neighborhood, and such sightings have been rare), Cathy tapped on the window, and we went out to talk for a while and to pet the dog and to say how good it was to see one another. That brief exchange gave us a lift. Sometimes, in winter and in our writing lives, we just need to be reminded we aren’t alone as we keep moving ahead, keep doing the good work.





  1. Denise Marois-Wolf on March 18, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Thanks, Lee. This was a much needed boost today.

    • Lee Martin on March 19, 2019 at 11:31 am

      You betcha, Denise!

  2. Nita Leland on March 18, 2019 at 9:17 am

    These are all so good, I can’t pick a favorite!

    • Lee Martin on March 19, 2019 at 11:30 am

      Luckily, you don’t have to pick, Nita. You can have them all!

  3. Ellen Keim on March 20, 2019 at 12:52 am

    “The imagination to improvise” hit me the most. I always think I have to render everything faithfully, especially in a personal essay. But this reminds me that life itself is improvisation; we’re all making it up as we go along. I shouldn’t let my fear of writing something that isn’t exactly like it is, or was, in real life keep me from writing what is true.

    Thank you for making me think differently about my writing!

  4. L on March 20, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Ellen, I’ve seen so many writers paralyzed by the desire for rendering things exactly how they were. As Tobias Wolff said, “Memory has its own story to tell.

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