13 Vital Reminders For Writers

Writing is tough work. If I may be so bold as to attempt a simile, I’d say that it’s like walking through a dark forest, but with your legs tied together. So in actuality you’re not really walking at all. But sort of hopping. Oh yes, and there’s a little devil perched upon your shoulder whispering sweet doubts in your ear. And the worst thing of all is that he’s composing his insults more poetically than you ever could.

To battle this devil, here are 13 punchy quotes that will help you remain focused as you hop through that dark forest.


Maya Angelou


Yohji Yamamoto


Isaac Asimov


Seth Godin


Sylvia Plath


Anton Chekhov


Steve Jobs


George R.R. Martin


Ernest Hemingway


Malcolm Gladwell


Kurt Vonnegut


Toni Morrison


Leonard Cohen



Follow Daniel on Twitter. Friend him on Facebook.

If you like this post, share it with someone.


Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Reddit

Related posts:

31 Responses to “13 Vital Reminders For Writers”
  1. Jeffrey 4 August 2013 at 6:22 PM #

    Gladwell was so smart to go to 10,000 hours instead of his first impulse which was: 36,000,000 seconds.

    • danbaylis 4 August 2013 at 6:33 PM #

      Ha! Yeah. That would have been wordy-ish.

  2. Maya 5 August 2013 at 10:33 AM #

    George R.R. Martin said it right. Writing is very much like getting a root canal. Painful, daunting, stressful, but great once it’s done.

    • danbaylis 5 August 2013 at 1:57 PM #


    • Sujatha 27 December 2013 at 2:39 PM #


  3. Helene 3 September 2013 at 1:44 AM #

    Just read this as I was looking for your email. Thanks for the compilation. Especially helpful tonight.

  4. Noah Hornberger 27 October 2013 at 3:00 AM #

    If writing is tough work then stop. Good writing is never tough. It flows like a river from the endless pool of insight bubbling from within. It is not hard. Get over it.

    • danbaylis 28 October 2013 at 6:26 PM #

      Dearest Noah,

      I apologize if you’ve mistaken my introductory statement to this blog post for a complaint. That’s not the way I intended it. For me, writing — whether good or less good — rarely “flows like a river” as you’ve so inventively described.

      Writing is a myriad of decisions with each word. It’s second guessing. It’s doubt-filled. And when the words align on the page as they exist in my mind, it is deeply cathartic.

      Again, I am not dramatizing. It’s simply my experience of the medium.

    • MrBurrows 9 December 2013 at 4:36 PM #

      I’m sorry Noah, what things have you written? Good things? Might anyone here have read them, or are you just repeating stuff you’ve heard, vaguely posted online without any people with experience saying it?

      If writing is easy, why aren’t you a famous author?

    • dr_mabeuse 18 December 2013 at 1:38 PM #

      I’ve never read a decent writer yet who didn’t sweat blood over his or her work. Yeah, writing is easy. Writing WELL is hard. And anyone who’s satisfied with their work is someone who’s stopped improving.

      I’d add one more to your list. I think it’s from Anais Nin, and this is a paraphrase: “A writer’s job is not to say what is, but to say what can’t be said.”

    • Windupbird 2 January 2014 at 10:12 AM #

      Naive, Noah. Are you a child?

  5. Jerry Miller 24 December 2013 at 5:27 PM #

    Robert Service is ranked #22 on a PoemHunter website listing 500 all time poets. He and all other writers who are published were amateurs at one time. Service, a bank clerk, was told he’d receive a $100 Christmas bonus, and he sent it to his father in Toronto to self publish his collection of observations in the Gold Rush Yukon-Klondike Canada of 1897-1898. When he received a letter from a publisher he noticed his check was being returned and assumed they would not print his rough language about non-noble people. Poetry should be uplifting, inspiring, exotic observations that everyone can see once it is pointed out. No, when he had a chance to read the letter it said the printer had orders for 1700 copies and wanted to negotiate a royalty. I remember a line from some movie where Jeff Bridges says “i’m a writer” and Andy Griffith says “no. When other people say you are a writer, THEN, you’re a writer.”

  6. George 26 December 2013 at 2:11 PM #

    As a songwriter, I tend to put lyric to music as short stories relative to my personal experience or the mood I happen to be in. This stumble was quite enlightening.

    Relative to songwriting, Angelou, Asimov, Chekhov and Morrison say it all.

    Thank You!

  7. Amit 28 December 2013 at 11:30 AM #

    Thank you for sharing :) happy days to you :)

  8. Loree 3 January 2014 at 3:46 AM #

    Very good insight, but would Hemingway have used the word shit?

    • Snipeth 4 March 2014 at 2:44 AM #

      You’re talking about a man who is as legendary for his drinking prowess as his writing. A man who had his yacht registered as a submarine hunter so he could shoot at sharks with automatic weapons. A man who survived World War One, then went to Spain when it decided to have a revolution. A man who regularly engaged in fistfights and uncouth behavior.

      Yeah, he would have use the word “shit”.

  9. Frost 9 January 2014 at 2:45 PM #

    Steve Jobs wouldn’t know art if it walked up to him and gave him cancer.

  10. Charlene 4 February 2014 at 10:45 PM #

    I DO NOT GET THE STEVE JOBS QUOTE. WTF DOES REAL ARTISTS SHIP MEAN….dont get it hahaha please help me. freaking out

    • Inkadu 11 March 2014 at 2:51 AM #

      He is saying that real artists finish and sell or send out their art.

  11. Rebeca 5 February 2014 at 9:01 AM #

    You can tell a traveling companion when you read the same signposts on their road as on yours…great quotes, for a writer, or a musician, or anyone who labors to birth any kind of deeply personal vision…thanks!!

  12. Ayushi 18 February 2014 at 11:29 PM #

    To be able to read such words and to know that they come from such people is a delight! And they reflect precisely what I would call simple, crisp and intelligent expression… ideal to inspire both writing and reading worthily :)
    Thanks for sharing

  13. Doug Balmain 22 February 2014 at 12:23 PM #

    “Think perfection is ugly.” Right on.

  14. Caroline Robinson 5 March 2014 at 3:56 PM #

    Love these inspirational quotes. Thanks for sharing these words and I may use some of them on my next post. Happy Reading & Writing!

  15. Alysa Lee 7 March 2014 at 8:54 PM #

    George R.R. Martin, if he indeed said that, ripped off Dorothy Parker, who had said “I hate writing. I love having written.”

  16. Nikola Gjakovski 9 March 2014 at 8:01 PM #

    Actually it helped me to read all the wise words from you together with all the geniuses through time. I haven’t really thought about writing stuff, I just do it :)

  17. saba pervaiz 13 May 2014 at 8:56 AM #

    Great Golden Words.

  18. Jari Ullah 15 July 2014 at 1:52 PM #

    Great Words :)

    • danbaylis 16 July 2014 at 9:15 PM #

      I agree!

  19. Cayanne Marcus 30 September 2015 at 3:16 PM #

    I loved this compilation from the very first reminder! As writers it’s difficult not to get caught up in writing for someone or something and just get back to writing for the love of it and the passion…the purpose often comes later and is different than what we intend


  1. Trying to Get Started | Parapeito - August 12, 2013

    […] delaying this debut until I had something necessarily relevant to share. But then I bumped into an interesting article that, I confess, gave me some more […]

  2. 5 Great Lists and 1 Free Download to Help You Write Better | StoryCroft - May 16, 2014

    […] 13 Vital Reminders for Writers, on The Conversationalist. Tips from great artists like Toni Morrison, Hemingway and Leonard Cohen My favorite, at least today, is from Isaac Asimov: “You are my idea of a good writer because when I read what you write I hear you talking.” […]

Leave a Reply