10 Writers On The Inspiration Myth

10 Writers On The Inspiration Myth


Writers Write is a comprehensive writing resource. In this post, 10 writers share their thoughts about the inspiration myth.

10 Writers On The Inspiration Myth

  1. ‘The curious truth … is that the writer who goes out with the bucket daily seems to provoke the rain.’ ~Naomi WolfThe Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love, and See, 2005
  2. ‘You can’t rely on inspiration. I don’t even believe in inspiration. I just believe in working. Work generates work. What frustrates me horribly is not knowing what I’m going to do next. And so you force something to happen… . You can’t sit around thinking. You have to sit around working.’ ~David Long, The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction: Inspiration and Discipline, 2007
  3. ‘Better beware of notions like genius and inspiration. They are a sort of magic wand and should be used sparingly by anybody who wants to see things clearly.’ ~José Ortega y GassetNotes on the Novel, 1925
  4. ‘I can’t explain inspiration. A writer is either compelled to write or not. And if I waited for inspiration I wouldn’t really be a writer.’ ~Toni Morrison, quoted in Time magazine, January 21, 1998
  5. ‘I have learned, as has many another better writer, to summon inspiration to my call as soon as I begin my day’s stint, and not to hang around waiting for it. Inspiration is merely a pretty phrase for the zest to work. And it can be cultivated by anyone who has the patience to try. Inspiration that will not come at its possessor’s summons is like a dog that cannot be trained to obey. The sooner both are gotten rid of, the better.’ ~Albert Payson Terhune, Writer’s Digest, June 1930
  6. ‘All this about inspiration… . I think writing is mainly work. Like a mechanic’s job. A mechanic might as well say he was waiting for inspiration before he greased your car because if he didn’t feel just right he’d miss a lot of the grease points, that he had to feel right up to it.’ ~E.B. WhiteThe New York Times, August 2, 1942
  7. ‘There are those … who think that the man who works with his imagination should allow himself to wait till—inspiration moves him. When I have heard such doctrine preached, I have hardly been able to repress my scorn. To me it would not be more absurd if the shoemaker were to wait for inspiration, or the tallow-chandler for the divine moment of melting.’ ~Anthony TrollopeAn Autobiography, 1883
  8. ‘What Romantic terminology called genius or talent or inspiration is nothing other than finding the right road empirically, following one’s nose, taking short cuts.’ ~Italo CalvinoCybernetics and Ghosts, November 1969
  9. ‘I’ve always disliked words like ‘inspiration’. Writing is probably like a scientist thinking about some scientific problem or an engineer about an engineering problem.’ ~Doris Lessing
  10. ‘And I think what I’ve always recognized about writing is that I don’t put much value in so-called inspiration. The value is in how many times you can redo something.’ ~John Irving, National Book Award Interview, June 3, 2005

Source for Quotes

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Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson

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