Paul Theroux on Blogging

You could say blog-like, but I think “blog-like” is a disparaging term. I loathe blogs when I look at them. Blogs look to me illiterate, they look hasty, like someone babbling. To me writing is a considered act. It’s something which is a great labor of thought and consideration. A blog doesn’t seem to have any literary merit at all. It’s a chatty account of things that have happened to that particular person.

~ Paul Theroux / The Atlantic

Charles Bukowski on Writing

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

~ Charles Bukowski

Jim Harrison on Writing and Money

“I averaged twelve grand a year for ten years, and then I got a little more, up to thirty-five grand,” Harrison said.

~ Conversations with Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison on Writers

Writers, I think, are sometimes productive to the extent that they remain sort of childlike about certain things. They stay operative for that reason.

~ Conversations with Jim Harrison

Suzanne Brøgger on Adversity

I welcome adversity and indifference. Of course, it’s stupid if someone has chosen to disregard you because of something you’ve written but that’s their problem.

Suzanne Brøgger / Louisiana Channel

Jim Harrison on Technique

Finally, what Wallace Stevens said, which I love and which is hard to explain to younger writers, is that technique is the proof of your seriousness.

~ Jim Harrison / Paris Review

Rachel Cusk on Integrity

“…and so I would think you get a lot further by sticking to your guns… and not trying to second-guess what people want to read.”

~ Rachel Cusk / Louisiana Channel

Barbara Ehrenreich on Writing

I had discovered that writing–with whatever instrument–was a powerful aid to thinking, and thinking was what I now resolved to do.

~ Barbara Ehrenreich

Werner Herzog on Writing

I’ve hardly ever written longer than five days on a screenplay because of the vehemence with which these projects come at me.

~ Werner Herzog / NYT, 23rd March 2020

Robert Harris on Writing

“It’s a profession, a job,” he says. “There’s a terrible preciousness about writing. I think that if you write, you’ve just got to get on and write.”

~ Robert Harris / Financial Times, 20th December 2019

Paul Theroux on Being a Writer

And what was it that I most liked about my work? That I had no boss, no employees, no rivals, no competitors—the freedom of being a writer? That it was a way of dealing with my life, transforming my experiences, finding ways to understand it—recording life’s joys, making its tribulations bearable, and also, in writing, easing the passage of time? Making a living this way, my own way, self-employed—that was something to like.

Paul Theroux / On the Plain of Snakes

Walter Mosley on Legacy

“Another problem I have with literary writers is they’re thinking about legacy.”

~ Walter Mosley

Jim Harrison on Writing

“What people forget is that this is not a goal-oriented operation.”

~ Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison on Work

“Eventually everyone knows if you did the job or not.”

~ Jim Harrison

Hunter Thompson on Writing

“One of the few ways I can almost be certain I’ll understand something is by sitting down and writing about it. Because by forcing yourself to write about it and putting it down in words, you can’t avoid having your say on the subject.”

~ Hunter Thompson

Samuel Johnson on Writing

“The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”

~ Samuel Johnson

Kurt Vonnegut on Writing

“Talent is extremely common. What is rare is the willingness to endure the life of the writer.”

~ Kurt Vonnegut

Augusten Burroughs on Writing

“Writing is like drinking in that it’s a comfort and escape but unlike drinking it leaves behind residue which you (c)an later sell.”

~ Augusten Burroughs

Hunter Thompson on Words

“Words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order.”

~ Hunter Thompson

Tom Stoppard on Writing

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”

~ Tom Stoppard

John McPhee on Writing

“I go hours before I’m able to write a word. I make tea. I mean, I used to make tea all day long.”

~ John McPhee