Curing Writer’s Block #3 — A Quote (or Four) To Inspire Writers

Two months ago, I launched this mini-series that talks about the dreaded writer’s block. It was all about how simply starting any writing with one true sentence can unlock any writer’s creative juices.

I followed that up with a second piece last month about how, when stuck, writers need to go even deeper into their writing voice. And to do so with the love and support of other writers who believe in them. That’s how to get ‘unstuck’.

This month I’m continuing with this series in hopes that if, like me, you my fellow writer are lost as to what to write, you can take heart. Today, I wish to share snippets of wisdom from those who’ve blazed the writing trail for the rest of us to follow.


Let’s go!

Quote #1 — If worthy, then do it badly!

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Photo by Sander on

Full Quote:
If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. (G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936)

Writer’s bio:
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a highly influential English writer, philosopher, Christian apologist, and literary and art critic. He was known for his paradoxical manner of turning popular sayings and allegories inside out. Chesterton also created the famous fictional priest-detective Father Brown.

How this quote inspires me:
First off, I must concede that when the great Mr Chesterton said this, he might not necessarily have been thinking about writing per se. Still, I’m going to shamelessly co-opt it over to the writer’s camp here!

And why not?

For the longest time, I’ve bought into the lie that writing belongs only to the proven, published, and polished writers in the public space. Best-selling authors. Pulitzer prize winners. Opinion editors and investigative journalists in major news wires. Professional playwrights and communicators. These are the folks who will get society’s rubber stamp of approval each time they put pen to paper and bang out their next magnum opus.

But, thanks to Chesterton and his amazingly witty and counterintuitive line, I’m comforted in the knowledge now that all of the above is, well, what I called it.

A lie.

A. Big. Fat. Lie.

Why should I give up my love and passion for writing just because society has these antiquated notions of who deserves to wear the lanyard that declares them a writer? All it ultimately takes for us to be writers is to say we are. And to believe deep down that the writing, in and of itself, is of immeasurable worth. So much so that, if it’s gonna take a hundred bad, shitty drafts before I write a brilliant one, then I’ll write those hundred bad shitty drafts!


If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

Until it isn’t. Badly, that is.

And, pray tell, which piece of written work doesn’t improve after ten or, better yet, a hundred attempts?

And so I write on.

Quote #2 — Writing is a confession and a struggle.

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Photo by Tim Gouw on

Full Quote:
I’m a writer, and everything I write is both a confession and a struggle to understand things about myself and this world in which I live. This is what everyone’s work should be – whether you dance or paint or sing. It is a confession, a baring of your soul, your faults, those things you simply cannot or will not understand or accept. You stumble forward, confused, and you share. If you’re lucky, you learn something.
(Arthur A. Miller, 1915-2005)

Writer’s bio:
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright, essayist, and screenwriter in 20th-century American theater. Among his most popular plays are All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, and A View from the Bridge. He wrote several screenplays too, including The Misfits.

How this quote inspires me:
Let’s face it.

Life is a constant struggle. We are always found short cos no one’s perfect. So why try to hold it all together like you’re going to be fine when more often than not, you really aren’t? (People who live in self-denial need not respond)

And arguably no one is more in a constant state of struggle than the writer.

For me, this quote from the esteemed Mr. Miller also reminds us all that a writer writes as a means to confess what he doesn’t know.

And I don’t know A LOT!

So I need to confess to the world with my words what I don’t know. And in doing so, stumble and fall. But always with unwavering hope that I’ll end up learning something. Cos things learnt from failure and faults tend to stick. Successes? Not so much.

And so I write on.

Quote #3 — Write for your own time, not posterity.

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Photo by Josh Hild on

Full Quote: 
“Write for your own time: don’t write for posterity, it doesn’t exist. You are writing for your own generation, people a little older than you, and people a little younger than you.”
(Joyce Carol Oates, 1938 – )

Writer’s bio:
Joyce Carol Oates is an American writer. She published her first book in 1963 and has since published 58 novels, a number of plays and novellas, and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and non-fiction.

How this quote inspires me:
I love this quote so much! It feels almost like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders.

No more expectations that are often ridiculous and unachievable. Expectations about what is to come which no one can predict. Ms. Oates is giving me a carte blanche license to simply write what I know now, and forgo any notions it will leave a mark in the future for another generation to admire.

What a relief! I no longer need to worry about what ‘legacy’ I am bequeathing to the next generation with the words I write. Sure, with any luck, there might be a few nuggets of wisdom embedded in my prose. But that’s for whoever is down the timeline to mine and dig up. Not for me to mind, and in so doing agonize and possibly paralyze my ability now to write freely from my gut. From my heart. From what I know now, in this world and this era that I currently inhabit.

And so I write on.

Quote #4 — Saying shapes doing.

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Photo by cottonbro studio on

Full Quote: 
What can and cannot be said shapes what can and cannot be done.
(Ezra Klein, 1984 – )

Writer’s bio:
Ezra Klein is an American progressive journalist, political analyst, New York Times columnist, author, and the host of The Ezra Klein Show podcast. He is a co-founder of Vox and formerly served as the website’s editor-at-large.

How this quote inspires me:
This line from Ezra is literally fresh out of the oven. In one of his most recent podcast episodes last month, Ezra made a point about the need to pay heed to what leaders and people in positions of power and influence say. What they say often leads to changes in policy and action.

How simple. How powerful a truth. For us writers especially. To be a writer means to believe in the power of words to call forth and bring to life what might otherwise not exist. According to the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible, God spoke and the world came to be. So this world, this life as you and I know it, exists because words exist.

For me, and for any writer, that means one thing, and one thing only. Each time we write, we are engaged in the most important, life-giving enterprise of any in human existence. In human history.

Can there be a more noble undertaking?

And so I write on.

Join me?

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