Sunday, May 31, 2020

What Writing Is...Described 22 Different Ways

KT Photo: May 2020
I continue to be drawn to writing, even if it's only scribbling in a journal, making sense of the notes I jot down and stuff in a pocket, revisiting and revising an old project, or starting a new one. Like James Michener (above), I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle. I also love quotes. Through the years I've collected quite a few--on a variety of subjects and from all kinds of sources.

So, while recently gleaning through my collection (and trying to pare it down!), I found--not surprisingly--numerous quotes on writing. Some speak of the process of writing. Others of the joy of writing. Some share writing advice on while others inspire, stir, and admonish. But the ones that jumped out at me on this run-through were the ones that started out with "Writing is..." 

Writing is...what? How to describe? Well, taking from my collection, here are 22 quotes that attempt to do just that:

 1. "Writing is thinking on paper." --William Zinsser

 2. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go." --E.L. Doctorow

 3. "Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers." --Isaac Asimov

 4. "The act of writing is the act of discovering what you believe." --Gustave Flaubert

 5. "Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." --Gloria Steinem

 6. "Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain." --Elie Wiesel

 7. "Writing is like a bird-watcher watching for birds: The stories are there; you just have to train yourself to look for them." --Barbara Micheals, author of The Wizard's Daughter

 8. "Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone." --Amy Tan

 9. "Good writing is like a windowpane." --George Orwell

10. "Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can't be taught." --Paul Desmond

11. "Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words." --Mark Twain

12. "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." --Gene Fowler

13. "Writing is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent elimination." --Louise Brooks

14. "Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay." --Flannery O'Connor

15. The act of writing is an act of optimism. You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn't matter." --Edward Albee

16. "It's the sheer act of writing, more than anything else, that makes a writer." --John Gardner

17. "The act of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." --Mary Heaton Vorse

18. "Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you've made sense of one small area." --Nadine Gordimar

19. "Putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought making us think more deeply even if our writing is thrown away." --Norbet Platt

20. "Writing is a struggle against silence." --Carlos Fuentes

21. "Writing is both mask and unveiling." --E.B. White

22. "Planning to write is not writing. Outlining...researching...talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing." --E.L. Doctorow

Which quote speaks to you the most? How would you describe writing? What do you collect?