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9 Insightful Quotes on the Process of Writing

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Before you sit down to write, you can’t anticipate what will come up. (Photo: bacho12345)

Writing is a process that involves brainstorming, planning, writing, rewriting, editing, and much more.

Sometimes this all seems like a mystery, so here are a few quotes that help illuminate the process.

Planning Is Fine, but Remain Flexible

 “It’s a bizarre but wonderful feeling, to arrive dead center of a target you didn’t even know you were aiming for.”

—Lois McMaster Bujold

“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”

—Winston Churchill

You often don’t know where you’ll wind up, so don’t get too attached to your plans in the beginning.

It’s fine to brainstorm, make outlines, and create a plan. But before you sit down to write, you can’t anticipate what will come up or what will change, etc.

That’s why being flexible with yourself is so important.

Focus on Getting Your Thoughts Down

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

—Terry Pratchett

Writer’s block and procrastination are big obstacles for a lot of writers.

That’s why the focus should be to get your thoughts down on the page—you’ll have time to clean them up later.

Some writers even start a project by writing down anything, even if it’s completely unrelated to the actual topic, just so they can get the writing started and the thoughts flowing.

Forget About Perfection

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

—Ernest Hemingway

Writing, like any other craft, is something you can do your entire life and still never feel like a pro.

Many famous writers say they sometimes feel like an impostor. Don’t let that discourage you. In fact, it should be liberating because it means you just need to focus on writing, improving your skills, and learning the process.

Persistence Is an Asset

“I hate writing. I love having written.”

—Dorothy Parker

“Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right.”

—Amy Joy

One thing’s for sure: Writing isn’t always easy.

But if you stick with a project even when it’s hard, you’ll be rewarded in the end. And on particularly tough days, you can always take a break and come back to it later.

Don’t Miss: Writers, It’s Time to Stop Dreading the Revision Process

The Key Is in Rewriting and Editing

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

—Shannon Hale

“The secret to good writing is rewriting.”

—William Zinsser

Many people have a misconception that great writers sit down, pour words out, and then are done.

But quotes like these prove that rewriting and editing are crucial, even for the masters of the craft.

Bringing It All Together

“Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed; an architectural one, where it is constructed; and finally, a textile one, where it is woven.”

—Walter Benjamin

As this quote illustrates, writing isn’t just one thing—it’s made up of getting thoughts down on paper, rewriting them, and then editing.

Each component is an important part of the process.

Keep in mind that every writer has her or his own process. For example, some writers create elaborate outlines while others get started without one. Some do a little editing as they go, while others just get their thoughts down as quickly as they can and leave all editing for the end.

So treat these nine quotes as a starting point and combine them with your own experience and style.

And if you need help with the editing process, we here at Super Copy Editors would be be glad to help! Contact us today to learn more about our copy editing or proofreading services for businesses.

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Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I’m Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than 25 years of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes. At Super Copy Editors, we’re passionate about helping agencies, marketing teams, and education companies refine and polish their text to give them confidence and ensure success. Learn more here.

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