Quotes for writers who are stuck

I’ve been working on a novel for a while now. I’m getting very close to the end of the first draft, but the closer I get to the end, the harder it gets. Something’s not gelling. I know the ending — have always known it — but I can’t quite figure out how to get there. At least, not to my satisfaction…

I’ve been scribbling notes for weeks now, going in circles, trying to figure out how things should play out. Today I decided I was going to try to write through it.

I read a quote recently (which I’ve been trying to find again) that went something along the lines of: It’s better to write something (anything) than nothing, because even if you scrap it you’re no worse off than you were before. (That’s so badly expressed — I really wish I could find the original!)

Anyway, while looking for this quote, I came across the following quotes about so-called writer’s block. Each resonates with me in a different way.

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block. — John Rogers

I think writer’s block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out. — Roy Blount, Jr.

The music lets me see the story but the story doesn’t let me write the words. — Elizabeth J. Kolodziej

Over analysis leads to paralysis. — Rebecca Jane

What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’ — Maya Angelou

Suggestions? Put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it (printouts are best I find, but that’s just me) as if you’ve never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see anything you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time. — Neil Gaiman

Writer’s block is a condition that affects amateurs and people who aren’t serious about writing. So is the opposite, namely inspiration, which amateurs are also very fond of. Putting it another way: a professional writer is someone who writes just as well when they’re not inspired as when they are. — Philip Pullman

I don’t really subscribe to the idea of writer’s block — but I can certainly relate to the fear, the over-thinking, the paralysis… And so now I try to write words, any words, in the hope something will click.

In the meantime, I’ll continue searching for that original quote! (Unless anyone can point me in its direction?)

10 comments

  1. I know the quote you’re referring to, and will look around a bit to see if I can find the source. I guess I wonder, too, if you’re having trouble getting from point A to point B, maybe just start writing from point A and see where you end up. It might not be that different from the point B you had in mind, or it might be totally cool and new.
    That and some Miami Vice reruns are a great way to kill an afternoon…
    😉

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    1. Well, I certainly have plenty of reading to do. 😛

      As for point A to point B… The ending is fixed and I’ve known it forever. There are other things hanging off it, so it’s not changing. The issue is not what happens, but how it happens. Or, more to the point, who makes it happen. (If you get what I mean.)

      And if you can find that quote, that would be awesome. Thanks.

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  2. Nice quotes, thank you! I agree that that feeling of paralysis can set in when I’ve been overthinking and am way too close to the writing. In that sense, I agree with Neil Gaiman’s suggestion of getting some distance from it for a bit. Good luck with your novel ending! They really can be challenging. I think “fear of finishing” can come up, too, and make things more complicated at that point!

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    1. I think I’ve gone past the distance thing – heh. It’s got to the point where I just need to just plough through. My problem is acknowledging I can change it later… I am very prone to overthinking, alas.

      My current mission is to write anything, get to the end, then fix it! (Possibly with help…) Thanks for your coment, Jill. 🙂

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  3. Great quotes. I like the John Rogers quote the best.

    As for getting through the last part of your novel, I have tried writing backwards from the end – usually in note form – because I somehow got to THE END in my head and the path is there, it’s just a bit overgrown because of all the time that’s passed since I began the novel. Just an idea. 🙂

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    1. Yes, and that’s where I’m at right now!! I’m also rather partial to the Elizabeth J. Kolodziej quote.

      I have the last few scenes in my head already… I have a good idea how they play out (which is something at least!). There’s just a tricky bit to negotiate first. I’m getting there I think… (And I can of course always FIX IT LATER! Need to get that into my thick skull.)

      I love your overgrown path analogy though. Gorgeous!

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  4. Great quotes! I particularly like the one by Maya Angelou. I think I’ll copy it down somewhere.

    I have no doubts you’ll keep writing and something (perhaps even something wonderful) will transpire. Onward!

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