Bulletin Board Wisdom

According to lore, author William Styron had a piece of cardboard tacked to the frame of the door that led into his workroom at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. The cardboard was inscribed with these words from Gustave Flaubert: “Be regular and orderly in your life, like a good bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Looking for some writing wisdom, familiar or fresh, for your workspace bulletin board? See if you find some here, winnowed from an original list of one hundred.

• “Story ideas begin with a simple “Suppose” or “What if.”—Anonymous

• “. . .All art comes out of conflict.”—Joyce Carol Oates (right)

• “Get black on white.”—Guy de Maupassant

• “Words are sacred. They deserve respect.”—Tom Stoppard

• “When in doubt, use a simple declarative sentence.”—Robert B. Parker

• “My task is by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see.”—Joseph Conrad

• “In every scene something engrossing needs to happen.”—Suzanne Hoover

• “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”—Kurt Vonnegut

• “Everything a character says should tell you something about who he or she is.”—Nell Freudenberger

• “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”—Stephen King

• “Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained.”—Esther Freud

• “Research is best when it doesn’t show.”—Lawrence Block

• “Stop when you are going good and you know what will happen next.”—Ernest Hemingway

• “There is but one art, to omit.”—Robert Louis Stevenson

• “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”—Elmore Leonard

• “Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.”—Jane Smiley

• “The writer’s life is a life of revisions. . . .”—Jonathan Franzen

• “You can always edit garbage. You can’t edit a blank page.”—Jodi Piccoult

• “Don’t be jealous of others’ success. . . .Wish others well and hope to join them someday.”—Po Bronson

• “. . .Never, under any circumstances, give up submitting one’s work.”—James Lee Burke

• “The ordeal is part of the commitment.”—Philip Roth

• “Don’t be ‘a writer.’ Be writing.”—William Faulkner

• “Don’t get it right, just get it written.”—James Thurber

• “Don’t make excuses; make sentences.”—Rick Mofina

• “I decided it was okay to try and fail; not okay to fail to try.”—Hallie Ephron

• “It’s a long haul. Remember to enjoy it.”—Tim Parks

• “Finish the damn book.”—Laura Lippman

• “Being a good writer is 3 % talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.”—Anonymous

PS. Congratulations to Joanne Hus. Her story “We All Fall Down,” which she workshopped awhile ago in our Saturday morning writers’ group at the Library, has been published in the new issue of Venü magazine, available at the Fairfield University bookstore downtown. Joanne also did the illustration that accompanies the story. She illustrated and designed the Library’s collection of original essays Around the Table: Food Memoirs from Fairfield that was published last year.—Alex McNab

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Great list of quotes. We can all use a little inspiration or a kick in the pants sometimes.:)


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