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20 Inspirational Quotes Writers Can Learn From (And Why)

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Need more inspiration? Then check out my screenwriting books.


1) “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” H.G. Wells

This is the thing. If you don’t go for it, you can never succeed. So don’t stay down. GET UP! MORE: Making It As A Writer: 25 Reasons You Haven’t Yet

2) “Failure is a greater teacher than success” Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Often writers will say to me they’ve “wasted” time on various rewrites and drafts and even entire stories, trying to find out what works. But let me be clear: learning what DOESN’T work is more valid than hitting the bullseye first time. You’re becoming a better writer by design, rather than accident. MORE: You are not wasting your time

3) “We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” J.M. Barrie

That writer you admire, that’s where you want to be, doing what you want to do, having the life you dream of? S/he’s failed. Loads of times. ‘Cos that’s the way it works. MOREHow To Deal With Rejection – Virtual Writers Inc – Author Essentials

4) “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.” Randy Pausch

I’ve said it over and over: you want something? Go get it. There is no other way and no short cut. MORE: How To Make Your Own Luck

5) “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” ― Samuel Beckett

Remember quote 3 in this list. Get better at failing, you get closer to success. Might sound screwy, but it’s true. MORE: It’s Not About Luck And It Totally Is


6)“Life is full of screwups. You’re supposed to fail sometimes. It’s a required part of the human existance.” Sarah Dessen

I can’t promise you that you won’t fail … In fact, I can promise you that you probably WILL. But you’ve already got nothing. So you might as well give it a go, right? MORE: Build It And They Will Come: Lucy V’s Wager

7) “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou

See quote 6 now, but also appreciate that you can’t sell out for success. You have to be true to who you are, otherwise any success you create will taste bad and not be worth it. MORE: How To Give Them What They Want And Get What You Want

8) “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” ― Truman Capote. 

In life, you gotta take the rough with the smooth. So stop focusing on the destination and enjoy the journey. MORE6 Ways YOU’RE Stopping Your Own Writing Success 

9) “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston S. Churchill

Professional writers know they will be rejected FAR more than they will ever be accepted, yet carry on regardless. This is not stupidity. This is necessity. MORE: 7 Things You Must Stop Doing If You Want To Be A Professional Writer

10) “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Paulo Coelho

Too many writers tell me they’re worried about eactions to their work. My answer is always, “You gotta get it finished and out there first.” So get going! MORESuccess is more perspiration than inspiration, but sometimes it’s the inspiration that fuels the perspiration


11) “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Henry Ford

We all hear about the writers who hate notes and get nowhere because they listen to nobody, but there’s another kind of writer we don’t hear so much about … The type of writers who love notes and feedback SO MUCH they spend all their time ripping drafts to shreds and starting again. Though these two types of writer are on opposite ends of the scale, they end up in the same place. Now THAT’s ironic, Alanis. MORE: How Do I Become A Professional Scriptwriter?

12) “When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” Ellen DeGeneres

Too many writers guard their work jealously to their chests and won’t share – ideas, expertise, even OPINIONS – for fear of getting stuff stolen or being taken advantage of. Yet you need to get YOURSELF out there and take risks, because this industry is about RELATIONSHIPS. Or you can sit in your bedroom in front of your computer moving words around on a page, convincing yourself you’re doing good work. Which is it to be? MORE: All about relationships and teamwork

13) “I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” Amelia Earhart

OK ladies, here’s one for you: we gotta REPRESENT. Not because I think women are any better or worse than men at all this writing stuff, but because our numbers aren’t as high and we gotta carry the banner and shout louder, either LITERALLY, via our own voices, or via our characters. So get cracking! MORE: Women! Know Your Place (everywhere)

14) “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” Thomas A. Edison

Remember quotes 2 and 5. Again. Seriously, I can’t underline this enough. And also, quit whining about rewriting stuff and thinking you can do it right first time or I’ll give you a punch. MORE: 5 Ways To Keep Up Stamina For Rewrites (And How To Know When It’s Done)

15) “I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”  Ed Sheeran

OK Ed Sheeran might not be a guy you’d expect on a list like this, but he’s got a point here. Writers are too often scared of offending people (see point 10), or excluding people from their target audiences, saying their work is “for everyone”. NEWSFLASH: your work is not for everyone. It can’t be for everyone. That’s NOT POSSIBLE. So find out WHO you are writing for because if you don’t know? No one else will either. MORE: Understanding Audience


16) “It’s our choices … that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” JK Rowling

This is the thing. As the old adage goes, one (wo)man’s meat is another’s poison, so it doesn’t matter how great or talented or SUCCESSFUL you are, someone out there is going to think you suck. You can let that paralyse you, or you can get going and do whatever it is YOU want to do, dissenters be damned. MORE: Writers, Make A Choice

17)  “Everybody said, “Follow your heart”. I did, it got broken.” Agatha Christie

Writing will break your heart. Why? Because for every success you have, you have your hopes dashed tenfold. Get used to it. So make the successes count and DON’T hide your light under bushel. You’re not boasting, you’re celebrating. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. MORE: Ashton Kutcher’s 3 secrets for a great career

18) “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

No failure is fatal, you can always turn this around. And things are probably not as bad as you think they are. Seriously. When you’re really dejected, for whatever reason, do an Ian Rankin and take some time out – remember WHY you love writing, rediscover the joy. MORE: Failed? Then Make like Jennifer Lawrence … Here’s how 

19“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” Elbert Hubbard

If you quit, you’ll never know how close you came. It really is as simple as that. MORE: The Habits Of Successful Writers

20) “Lucy: You learn more when you lose / Charlie Brown: Well then I must be the smartest person in world!!!” ― Charles M. Schulz

Writers ARE losers because they keep going when everybody else quit long ago … And that’s what makes them winners!!! MORE: 5 Ways To Stay Focused On Your Writing Dream

So keep on keeping on … what is the alternative? If you need even more inspiration, why not check out my screenwriting books.

See you on the other side!!

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9 thoughts on “20 Inspirational Quotes Writers Can Learn From (And Why)”

  1. Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

    Dear Lucy, I suspected you have something to do with Charlie Brown’s foresight hahaha!

    Great quotes! Just one more:
    “Celui qui parti de zéro est arrivé à rien n’a de merci à dire à personne” =
    “The man who starting from scratch got nothing doesn’t have to thank anybody”


  2. All I know is, earlier this year was I rejected by not one, but two screenwriting contests, my day job was is a low paid dehumanizing grind and I was low, so low I couldn’t stop the tears and all I wanted to do was crawl up and disappear, so I wrote an email to an amazing woman with a brilliant screenwriter’s website and to my surprise she emailed me back, I printed that email and I’ve carried it with me ever since. Someday I hope to repay the kindness x

  3. “I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Ed Sheeran…. er, Noooo! This quote has been around since before Ed Sheeran, or possibly even his parents, were around. It’s attributed to Herbert Bayard Swope who died in 1958!

  4. A wonderful list of quotes. I think my favorite was the one by Rowling. I also like that each quote came with a link. Thank you for this.

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