Today is a rather special day.
First of all, for us here in the UK, it’s Father’s Day. It’s the day we single out to honour and celebrate male parenting. It’s also our summer solstice – the day we enjoy the most hours of daylight, usually taken to be the start of summer. Finally, for me more personally, today is my ‘half birthday’. It’s exactly six months until I turn 22 – and in turn, exactly six months until my deadline for my novel.
I love writing, but I’m not going to lie, I’m not finding this easy. Some days, I feel like I’ll never make my deadline; other days, I feel like I’ll never finish at all. I haven’t given up though, and I don’t intend to. When I start to struggle, there are lots of things that keep me going, but I find quotes can be particularly powerful. These are five of my favourite.
1) When I’m feeling insecure about my style of writing…
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
– Bill Cosby
There are so many fantastic books out there, and whenever I read one that’s entirely different from my own, I inevitably feel a little insecure. My novel doesn’t have a thrilling, fast-paced plot, it’s not bursting with historical details or set in a vivid, imaginative, alternative world, and this quote reminds me that that’s okay. I’m writing the sort of book I’d like to have read when I was a little younger. Hopefully it will please some, but it’s impossible to cater for everybody.
2) When I feel like I don’t know where I’m going…
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
– E. L. Doctorow
Some days, I feel confident I’m going in the right direction with my novel; other days, I feel decidedly blind. This quote offers me a little bit of reassurance. Okay, so I may not be able to see the road right to my destination, but if I just keep going, I’ll get there in the end.
3) When I’m reading my work and getting more and more disheartened…
“The first draft of anything is shit.”
– Ernest Hemingway
I’m not normally a fan of swearing, but for this quote I can make an exception. It’s short and blunt and it makes me grit my teeth and push forwards – even when I want to curl up and cry. This is a draft I’m working on – a first draft. It doesn’t need to be perfect, I just need to get it finished.
4) When I find myself procrastinating…
“If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.”
– Dan Poynter
I never seem to have enough time for everything – even now that I’ve finished uni – and yet when I do have a little to spare, I often find myself reluctant to open my novel simply because I’m not feeling inspired. Deep down, I know I’m not going to finish my book that way, and this quote forces me to acknowledge that. I want to be a writer, not a waiter.
5) When I’m starting to doubt everything…
“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
– J.K. Rowling
This is my ultimate go-to quote for when I’m struggling with my writing, because sometimes I do – I start to wonder whether I should just give up. When I’m having a bad day, sometimes I doubt myself and whether I really have anything worth pursuing, but when I read Rowling’s words, I realise I have to try. It may end terribly – I may end up with a disaster of a book that no one wants to read – but at least then I’ll have given it a go, and more importantly, at least then I won’t be a complete failure in the eyes of one of my biggest heroines.