• Caroline Richardson

Concepts about Writing - Motivating Mantras

Write drunk, Edit sober - Ernest Hemingway...


Writing is it’s own reward - Henry Miller...


In writing you must kill all your darlings - William Faulkner


The preceding are a sampling of quotes that likely grace many a writer’s desk. Sage words from famous writers, meant to encourage and push them to keep putting pen to paper, and pump out the words.


These all have one thing in common. They teach a critical skill, motivate, or provide a simplified statement to how a writer writes. There are so many out there that I had to drill down to the few I have personally used over the years, or I would fill this blog post with nothing but famous quotes from writers I can only hope someday to emulate in productivity and success.


Each writer out there has their own mantra that they use. Ask one of your fellow writers in the wild and they’ll tell you which one is printed on a journal, or stuck to the wall in their office, their screensaver, or even one that gets repeated in their mind when they are writing.


It isn’t the magic medicine to type out your bestseller, we all know there are more moving parts to writing than that! But... a simple quote can get the gears turning to deeper understanding when we put the brain behind the machine to make it go!


Do you have a favourite author quote that helps you write? Why did it speak to you? How do you apply it, if you do?


I’ve used many over the years. I have a whisky glass somewhere with Ernest Hemingway’s write drunk mantra on it. I’ve often used Gustave Flaubert’s “Remember to write for yourself, not for a market and give yourself time to develop your own style, your own voice. It takes a lifetime. Enjoy it!” or Cyril Connolly’s “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self”.


I always took that to mean write for yourself first, which lead into writing what you love, write for joy. I think Ray Bradbury said something like that. “Write what you love and love what you write.”


These are mostly esoteric concepts I have thrown around to understand how I write best, what moves me to create. It is intrinsic to the nature of needing that understanding to properly focus on writing what I am good at. Which took awhile to find, honestly, and I may never truly find it. “The journey is the reward”, right Steve Jobs?


But with my busy life, and the writing I do finally becoming a second job, I was casting for a different kind of mantra or quote. One that would be a catalyst to helping me write, and get words down, books finished, that sort of thing.


It was pretty simple. I came across a large amount of “Butt in Chair” quotes of various flowery language levels (some quite crude). At the heart, this is the gist of it. The book will not get written if the butt is not in the chair [in front of the keyboard]! Kind of a DUH thing to say, and seems simplistic. But there it is.


I’ve been remembering these quotes lately as I try and figure out a new writing schedule that doesn’t impact the rest of my life (work, family, down time) and still make tracks in the book I am writing.


I could wax poetic on why it is working, and my butt is indeed in a chair, but I found a short and sweet blogpost on Medium by Scott Myers (complete with hilarious chairs) that I’ll share with you. He explains it much more succinctly.


Writing Mantra: “Writing equals butt in chair” (*)


And I’ll leave you with the quote I like best, written down somewhere in the mess that is my current office space:

Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat - Dorothy Parker



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