My word-output flood has been more of a dribble – but for your entertainment I offer a few tidbits I’ve recently come across:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or building or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency, he is not really alive unless he is creating.”

— Pearl Buck

I agree with this assessment of the creative temperament, which is somewhat worrisome since I have created so very little in the past decade or so. Recently though I’ve begun to think that I may have things backward – instead of thinking “Well maybe I’m not really a writer, since I’m always miserable and hardly write”, perhaps I should be thinking “Maybe I’m so miserable because I am a writer but hardly write”.

“…quantity produces quality. Only if you do a lot will you ever be any good. If you do very little, you’ll never have quality of idea or quality of output. The excitement and creativity comes from a whole lot of doing – hoping you’ll be suddenly struck by lightning.”

— Ray Bradbury

“To be any good as a writer you have to write at least a thousand words a day every day. That’s just to keep the junk out of your system. We all carry around too much junk – we’re all walking wounded – and you have to get rid of it to find the good stuff. Writing is just like athletics. You have to keep in shape. I think those thousand words do that.”

— Ray Bradbury

This is excellent advice, repeated by pretty much every writer I respect who’s spoken about writing – so I’m really making an effort to make an effort (follow that?) to write as much as possible.

“I’m scared, but I think that is healthy. It is perfectly natural that I should have a freezing humility considering the size of the job to do and the fact that I have to do it all alone. There is no one to help me from now on. This is the writing job, the loneliest work in the world. And I am now going into the darkness of my own mind.”

— John Steinbeck

Hey, what can I add to that? It’s John Steinbeck. And it’s true.

“Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of eduated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

— Calvin Coolidge

Again, nothing new in saying that hard work brings success – but I really like the way Coolio there said it.

“Writing comes very hard for me. I do not understand why people think writing is easy. I am at a loss to know how to arrive at Word One, much less the whole piece. Seeking a first line, I pound the typewriter very fast to start with, not for speed but for structure and discovery. I cut in on my facts at any point, haphazard, confident that something will lead to something and eventually to a beginning, by which time the work I’ve done up ahead will inform the work behind. Begin anywhere. Most beginning writers cannot go forward because they insist on making every sentence clean before going on to the next. Somehow, I learned to live with the chaos of a first draft.”

— Mark Harris

I in particular have a hard time with this. It can be a monstrous battle with my borderline OCD personality to just submit to a good word-spewing and not worry about spelling, grammar, etc. One of the books I read recently referred to that initial burst of primal creativity as the ‘zero draft’, and I like that better. Makes it sound more “outside the work flow” to me.

“Writing is writing.
Thinking is not writing.
Talking about is not writing.
Reading is not writing.
Research is not writing.
Proofreading is not writing.
Rewriting is not writing.
Writing is writing.”

I have this printed out and posted above my writing space!

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