Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More Advice on First Drafts: 8 Quotes to Inspire

clip art courtesy pixabay
"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." --Vladamir Nabokov

Work on the first draft of current WIP is progressing but, depending on the day--or week, words flow or words dry up. Pages have scribblings (I'm handwriting this first draft!) or are left half-blank. We've talked about this before (here and here), but the first draft can seem so...well...blank. I'm in need of a shot of encouragement again. How about you? We're in good company, you know...

1. Begin. "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

2. Close the door. "Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." --Barbara Kingsolver

3. Take chances. "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." --William Faulkner

4. Jump off cliffs--and grow wings. "We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down." --Kurt Vonnegut

5. Develop intestinal fortitude. "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." --Silvia Plath

6. Get yourself a club. "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." --Jack London

7. Raise rabbits. "Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen." --John Steinbeck

8. Wear ear plugs. "Don't listen to people who tell you that very few people get published and you won't be one of them. Don't listen to your friend who says you are better than Tolkien and don't have to try any more. Keep writing, keep faith in the idea that you have unique stories to tell, and tell them." --Robin Hobb

And keep the end goal in sight, that's what I keep telling myself. Each word gets you closer! Even if the ending holds some surprises you couldn't fathom at the beginning:

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." --Douglas Adams

Any words of advice you could share on staying the course? How do you resist giving up on that elusive first draft?


  1. Nice list, Kenda. I love, "Jump off cliffs--and grow wings." Sometimes that's the only way to get started.

  2. I can certainly relate to your feelings. Spending one's time writing--with absolutely no guarantees that the time spent will pan out, as in result in a book contract--is almost enough to make one stop in their tracks. In the very least, it causes a deep sigh.

    I took two months off from writing recently and didn't have any trouble filling up my time. I updated my wardrobe by culling things that don't fit anymore, etc. I bought new makeup and started wearing it on occasion. (Prior, i hadn't worn makeup in YEARS.)

    But one morning 2 1/2 weeks ago, I sat down at my writing desk and "haven't gotten up since," so to speak. If we're real writers, it seems, we will always keep coming back. Even despite discouragement from without and within.

  3. Elizabeth, you are right--just jump in and then fly. Words to keep in mind in order to go forward. Thanks for stopping by :-)

    Cathy, you are proof that writing must be in the blood. We do keep coming back to it, don't we? Your story is an inspiration, knowing that those months off carried their own issues and you had a lot on your mind. But updating the wardrobe and choosing to wear makeup again says a lot about how things are looking better. So glad to know that! Good luck on all your upcoming projects...

  4. These are all great quotes. I, too, love # 4. Telling people I'm a writer felt like jumping off a cliff. It's easier now. Guess I'm growing wings.

    When I'm writing a first draft, it won't let me go. Once I had writers' block for several months and still went to bed each night and woke up each morning thinking about my draft. And then, one day, I woke up with the solution. Remembering that episode helps me keep going. I know there's a solution out there if I don't give up.

  5. Peggy, thanks for sharing--knowing you hit a dry spot and one day the solution was there is encouraging. It's amazing to think our brains are working on the story even when we don't think anything is there. I've hit snags in my draft right now and needed to hear this :-) As for the points above, I took #5 to heart this week: seeking guts and imagination and fighting self-doubt!

  6. Love everything on this list! But especially #6 Get Yourself a Club! Waiting for inspiration to come around for me never happens!