Writing Quotes

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by Henry McLaughlin

Many of us have writing quotes to inspire or nag us. Or to nudge us to keep writing.

A few of my favorites include:

“If my family didn’t want me to write about them, they should’ve behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” – Ray Bradbury

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

I also have quotes that I make up for myself or paraphrase from what I’ve read about the craft. The one I use most frequently comes to mind when I’m frustrated with some aspect of my writing. The story isn’t working as I hoped. The characters are rebelling. Another rejection comes in, or a speaking engagement falls through, or an editing client quits.

At the peak of my bafflement, I’ve looked heavenward and said, “Remember, this was your idea.” I take my discombobulation out on God. It’s a way of saying, “You called me to this, but it isn’t working out the way I thought it would (or should).”

And God says…Nothing! Or so it seems.

He knows me all too well. There are times I think he lets me stew in my situation. I’m sure it’s to teach me something. One of the things I’m learning is patience. I’m also learning the more difficult character-building traits of trust and obedience.

If I’m called to be a writer, then I write. If I don’t write, then I’m in disobedience. If I’m not called to be a writer, and I’m writing, then I’m also in rebellion. And he can’t bless disobedience any more than he can bless whining or begging.

It’s when I repent of my disobedience that his blessings can flow, and his plan for me can move forward. And I’m learning it moves forward in his timing, not mine. At the beginning of this year, he gave me specific directions on how he wants me to proceed with my writing over the next few months. Before that morning, it seemed like he’d never heard my prayer. Now, I know differently. He was getting me into a position to listen to him.

I’m doing that now. And trusting his timing.

In his sermon, Learning Hope the Hard way, Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, said when doing things God’s way seems hard, it’s because, “If it was easy, I’d think I did it myself.” I’d glorify myself instead of God.

When I tell God, “Remember, this was your idea,” his response is, “I know. Are you ready to trust me?” My complaint becomes an inspiration to keep going, knowing his way—even when I can’t fathom it—is so much better than mine.

Do you have a personal phrase or a favorite quote you use to keep you going?

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Henry McLaughlin’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. He serves as Associate Director of Story Help Groups (formerly North Texas Christian Writers). Besides writing fiction, Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers.


Comments 3

  1. Seventh grade was a bad year for me, and one way I got through was looking forward to reruns of the show “The Greatest American Hero”. The theme song had the line “Believe it or not, it’s just me.” I think that’s the story of my life. Believe it or not, God can use someone who has as much trouble as I have with anxiety to accomplish His purpose. And that means doing scary things like flying by myself for the first time in my life to attend a conference and learning how to take criticism of my stories.

  2. I have a whole notebook called Wit and Wisdom where I all the great quotes that I have run across in my reading. The very first quote is

    Fairy Tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy Tales tell children that the dragons can be killed.
    GK Chesterton

    I have a lot of favorites but this is still my favorite, favorite.

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