I have found that unless I make myself some office hours and stick to them—8.30 to 11 A.M. and 1 to 3 P.M.—I don’t do any writing. I pick some wild flowers and arrange them, wash the dog, and make a cake, and then it’s too late to start this morning. So I read another chapter of the book I started last night and go swimming. Morning is really the time your mind is clearest, I remember being told. There’s no sense in trying to start writing in the afternoon. So I’ll write tomorrow. I really will.
But I wouldn’t if I didn’t have my office hours. If I can’t think of anything to write about, I just sit in front of the typewriter and brood.― Louise Rich Dickinson
It takes a heap of living to make a writer. It doesn’t necessarily have to be physical action, either. It may be the lives other people have lived, close to you. But a steady flow of happenings, motives, emotions must pass through your mind into your subconscious, and must enter in a continuous stream to supply that certain something that lets you make stories real to the reader.
The important thing to remember is that your ability to write is like your bank account—you must keep putting in to have something there to take out.Jane Littell, Writer’s Digest (May 1940)
“Listen to me. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.”Jean Rhys, in a Paris Review interview
Write every day whether you feel like it or not. Keep a journal and [an] idea notebook. Write to editors and writers that you admire and share your ideas. Take them to lunch if you can. Attend their workshops and writers’ seminars. . . Most of all, write. Write. Write. Write as if your legacy would be a book.Michael Ray Smith, FeatureWriting.Net: Timeless Feature Story Ideas in an Online World
Compete with yourself, not others. Invariably, when we compare ourselves to others, we rarely measure up. So change up this equation and compete with yourself. Define a personal best and see if you can surpass it. Early in my career as a staff writer for a daily newspaper, I needed to learn how to write and report as fast as possible. By competing with myself, I found that I could achieve a rate of one thousand words of original content in sixty minutes—a personal best. I impressed myself!Tim Morgan, The Joy of Working at Home
Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that—but you are the only you.Neil Gaiman
Serious writing is not something you merely do if or when you can find the time. It’s not just for Sunday afternoons, or the occasional evening, or a few hours a week when you can give it some attention. Make the time, and make lots of it. Tackle the craft daily and dedicate a generous portion of your existence to honing your skills. You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it, and serious writing requires a lot of investment.Chuck Sambuchino
(10 Tips for Writing, Writer’s Digest, August 2015)