Author Carolyn See once said, “Every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revises the official version.” Which is one of many reasons why women writers are amazing — and why we need more of them. Because let's face it, the "official version" of the world could do with some revising. (Plus, the world could always do with more good books, whether they're by men or women).
No matter what you’re writing about, be it fiction or non-fiction, the process of putting words of paper is tricky. It can be frustrating, discouraging, emotional, and just plain hard – and yet writing can also be incredibly rewarding. Getting started can be terrifying and trying to keep going with a project can seem impossible sometimes, and yet somehow there are amazing women out there who manage to create incredible works of art regardless.
So whether you’re looking to put your first words down on a blank page, get over a little writer's block (or a lot), find some extra inspiration, or just appreciate the writing process from a distance as a book-lover, check out these 26 quotes from women who are absolute masters of their craft, and prepare to be inspired.
“A word after a word after a word is power.”
"Writing is a process, a journey into memory and the soul."
"Writing is really a way of thinking — not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet."
“Writing is a job, a talent, but it's also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.”
“The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.”
“Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.”
“Cram your head with characters and stories. Abuse your library privileges. Never stop looking at the world, and never stop reading to find out what sense other people have made of it. If people give you a hard time and tell you to get your nose out of a book, tell them you're working. Tell them it's research. Tell them to pipe down and leave you alone.”
“Write what should not be forgotten.”
“Write about the emotions you fear the most.”
—Laurie Halse Anderson
"Perhaps it is just as well to be rash and foolish for a while. If writers were too wise, perhaps no books would get written at all. It might be better to ask yourself 'Why?' afterward than before. Anyway, the force of somewhere in space which commands you to write in the first place, gives you no choice. You take up the pen when you are told, and write what is commanded."
—Zora Neale Hurston
"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. ... [Write] knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them."
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
“And by the way, 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.”
“Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”
"I am a person who thinks about the nature of the spirit when I write. I think about what can't be known and only imagined. I often sense a spirit or force or meaning beyond myself. I leave it open as to what the spirit is, but I continue to make guesses."
“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.”
"You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence."
—Octavia E. Butler
“One of the biggest, and possibly the biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer... is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you're going to manage to get down on paper. (And if you ever think otherwise, then you've turned into an arrogant self-satisfied prat, and should look for another job or another avocation or another weekend activity.) So you have to learn to live with the fact that you're never going to write well enough. Of course that's what keeps you trying — trying as hard as you can — which is a good thing.”
"You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page."
"It didn't occur to me that my books would be widely read at all, and that enabled me to write anything I wanted to. And even once I realized that they were being read, I still wrote as if I were writing in secret. That's how one has to write anyway — in secret."
"It was not in my nature to be an assertive person. I was used to looking to others for guidance, for influence, sometimes for the most basic cues of life. And yet writing stories is one of the most assertive things a person can do. Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconceive, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself. Even among the most reluctant and doubtful of writers, this willfulness must emerge. Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, 'Listen to me.'"
"Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence."
"I do what I do, and write what I write, without calculating what is worth what and so on. Fortunately, I am not a banker or an accountant. I feel that there is a time when a political statement needs to be made and I make it."
"A story is not like a road to follow … it's more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you."
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”