Gaining Inspiration from the Greats – The Art of Writing

“Isaac Asimov on Throne” is an original artwork by renowned science fiction and fantasy illustrator, Rowena Morrill.

Gaining Inspiration from the Greats – The Art of Writing

Guest Post: Cathryn Johnson

Sometimes when I am writing, I reach a slump.  I begin to question my own abilities.  I wonder if I am just not meant to be a writer.  Perhaps I just don’t have what it takes.  Maybe I am not talented enough.  But, then the question arises, is writing pure talent?  Is it an inborn skill?  Or is it something that can be learned?  Can writing be practiced and perfected?  What exactly is writing?

As I set out to find the answers to these questions, I came across the thoughts of many great writers on these topics.  And, they seemed to reach a consensus:

1.     Writing is not magic, it is merely the act of penning one’s thoughts

2.     Writing can be learned (at least to some extent)

3.     Practice makes perfect

Here are nine quotes from great writers throughout history expressing these ideas, that I have compiled to challenge, motivate and inspire us:

It is Simply Penning One’s Thoughts

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.

Isaac Asimov – an award-winning American author and professor of biochemistry, best known for his works of science fiction

To the composition of novels and romances, nothing is necessary but paper, pens, and ink, with the manual capacity of using them.

Henry Fielding – an English novelist and dramatist, best known for writing the novel Tom Jones

The writer’s genetic inheritance and her or his experiences shape the writer into a unique individual, and it is this uniqueness that is the writer’s only stuff for sale.

James Gunn – an American writer, filmmaker, actor, musician and cartoonist, best known for penning the screenplays for the Scooby-Doo movies


It Can be Learned

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.

Ernest Hemingway – a Nobel Prize winning writer and journalist whose greatest works include For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea

Toni Morrison

I think some aspects of writing can be taught. Obviously, you can’t teach vision or talent. But you can help with comfort.

Toni Morrison – a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, editor, and professor, whose best works include Song of Solomon and Beloved

Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.

Truman Capote – a short story, novel, play and non-fiction writer whose greatest works include, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood


Practice Makes Perfect

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those who move easiest have learned to dance.

Alexander Pope – an English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer

John Irving

When I was still in prep school – 14, 15 – I started keeping notebooks, journals. I started writing, almost like landscape drawing or life drawing. I never kept a diary, I never wrote about my day and what happened to me, but I described things.

John Irving – an American novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, whose best known works include The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany

The desire to write grows with writing.

Desiderius Erasmus – a Dutch Renaissance humanist and a Catholic priest and theologian who wrote in pure Latin

I encourage you to take a few moments to meditate upon these words of wisdom.  Then, take a deep breath, stop second guessing yourself, and start writing.  You can do it!

Author Bio:  Cathryn Johnson is a freelance writer. She is currently a resident writer for  Online Nursing Schools, which researches areas of nursing education, online nursing programs, and healthcare. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, theater and having fun in the sun.


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Filed under Advice, Inspiration, writing inspiration

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