It's not plausible or desirable to try to get the world to go away for hours at a time, but it's entirely possible to make it all shut up for 20 minutes. --Cory Doctorow, "Writing in the Age of Distraction"
I like my friend Jim Hynes’s Commonplace-Book so well that I decided I needed one of my own. Consider this a running journal of observations (the top entries are the most recently added) that catch my eye, buck me up, get me through the rough patches, and remind me what I love about the art and craft of writing. Enjoy.
There are only three principles necessary for a lyric writer, all of them familiar truisms....In no particular order, and to be written in stone:
Content Dictates Form
Less Is More
God Is in the Details
all in the service of
without which nothing else matters.
--Stephen Sondheim, Finishing the Hat
All novels are sequels; influence is bliss. --Michael Chabon
Keep calm and carry on. --British World War II-era slogan
Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them. --C.S. Lewis, letter to a young fan, June 26, 1956. (Worth reading in its entirety.)
If you're gonna write, for God in heaven's sake, try to get naked. Try to write the truth. Try to get underneath all the sham, all the excuses, all the lies that you've been told. --Harry Crews
You don't write novels if you only write when inspired. --Neil Gaiman (via Twitter)
The essence of the story is motion. --Shirley Jackson, "Notes for a Young Writer"
I paint what I see. --Gahan Wilson
Black tea and white noise. [What you need to get writing done, said to me at the coffee shop where he and I like to write in the morning.] --Louis Bayard
Reality fights against your dreams, it tries to deny creation and change. --Walter Mosley
I told you, you damned fools. --H.G. Wells, suggesting a motto for his headstone.
All the thoughts are in the typewriter. --William Maxwell (via this)
The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page. --Anne Enright
Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. --Roddy Doyle
Strict chronology is the secret of good narrative. --Winston Churchill
I wasn't in the mood for exquisite observing. --New Yorker cartoon caption
If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. --William Morris