Ten Quotes for Writers on Labor Day

On Labor Day, I like to give thanks for the fact that I’m able to spend a good portion of my time moving words about on the page. When I left college between my junior and senior year, I worked for a year and a half in the press room at a tire repairs manufacturing plant. I burned my arms on the presses, I breathed silicon fumes, I worked ten hour days, I came home so tired in the evenings that often all I could do was bathe, eat, and fall asleep. I can’t tell you how much I admire the people who labor with their bodies. That work taught me much about perseverance, about working when I didn’t feel like working, about determination, dedication, dreams. That job was a pivotal time in my life. I saved my money, and I went back to school. From then on, I was a serious student. I wanted to be a writer and a teacher. I’ve been fortunate enough to be exactly that for a good number of years now. Everything I’ve accomplished began with the work ethic I learned when I did that factory job. I learned to put my head down and go, to shoulder through the hard hours, to just keep working. With that in mind, I offer up these ten quotes about the work of the writer. Keep doing the good work, my friends. Give thanks for it every day.


“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.” ~Ray Bradbury

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.” ~Harlan Ellison

“Writing is physical work. It’s sweaty work. You just can’t will yourself to become a good writer. You really have to work at it.” ~Will Haygood

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.” ~Stephen King

“Through joy and through sorrow, I wrote. Through hunger and through thirst, I wrote. Through good report and through ill report, I wrote. Through sunshine and through moonshine, I wrote.” ~Edgar Allan Poe

“Prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.” ~Louisa May Alcott

“ Nothing will work unless you do.” ~Maya Angelou

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” ~Gustave Flaubert

“Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.” ~Madeleine L’Engle

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ~Mary Oliver



  1. Nita Leland on September 7, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    I love this post. Your words resonate with my experience of writing, of storytelling. Thank you for reaching out.

    • Lee Martin on September 8, 2020 at 11:44 am

      Keep doing the good work, Nita!

  2. Herna on September 7, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks, Lee. For me, reading your personal experience in the first paragraph is more moving than the ten quotes.

    • Lee Martin on September 8, 2020 at 11:43 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for leaving this comment.

  3. Virginia Chase Sutton on September 8, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    Wonderful! Thanks, it’s a great gift! So true and so heartbreaking. But that’s not a bad thing.

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