What you write when you want to write and don’t know what to write….

I did a search on Google for a prompt, and away we go! the  unbolded italicized thoughts are mine. (Thank you to Vinita Zutshi; a writer, editor, storyteller and parenting coach. She is also Guest Post Editor at Write to Done and Content Editor at A-List Blogging.)

1. If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~ Toni Morrison
Now, this is an interesting thought. What do I want to read that I can’t find? The perfect novel? I’ve read many that are just that. Am I afraid mine can’t be that good, and am I self-sabotaging whenever I set it aside, instead of finishing? I haven’t thought of it that way before, but I will now. It might be just what I need to keep me focused and on track. After all….I would so love to have someone, someday, feel about my books the way I feel about some of the favorites I’ve read (and read, and read again!)

2. Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come the most unsought for are commonly the most valuable. ~ Francis Bacon
Okay, this I believe. Because I’ve done plenty of free-writing exercises, and I am amazed at all the places I go and what comes forth onto the pages and where it fits into whatever my work in progress might be. Think it’s time to get back to doing that very thing, first thing each morning, as I used to do.

3. The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. ~ Neil Gaiman
Also very true and very good. A writer who critiqued one of my manuscripts told me that there really aren’t any new ideas any more, that what is fresh and new is what I bring to the idea when I write it. In other words, even though some of my other friends have heard plenty about Cooper and Maggie, and could even, if they chose, try to write a similar story….it wouldn’t be the same. No one can tell it exactly the way I am telling it, word by word, page by page.

4. I dare you all to write one more thing that you won’t say to my face. ~ Marilyn Manson
Wellllllll…….I have to say that I never want to come face to face with Marilyn Manson, and leave it at that.

5. Write books only if you are going to say in them the things you would never dare confide to anyone. ~ Emile M. Cioran
I do that already; I have done it for years, in my journals, my poetry, and now in my novel. It’s a blend of writing what was, and what might have been, and what I wished might have been.  And the irony is that it very well might have been all that I wanted so much at the time, if only I had been able to speak the deepest desires of my heart.

6. Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. ~ Cyril Connolly
I have been asked before if I would still be writing if no one ever saw a single word of it. The answer was so simple: I’ve been doing it most of my life. I will always write, because I can’t not write. And I never want to write garbage just to be published!

7. I write for myself things that I’ve gone through. ~ Dolly Parton Again…something I’ve done all my life. I started with a journal when I was ten, trying to work through how I felt, trying to understand things I could not. Later, when my life was more nightmare than anyone’s should ever be, I wrote to keep myself sane, to stay alive. I realized, years later, that if what I feared most would happen, there should be some sort of record that I had been here….

8. I write out of my intellectual experience. ~ Tom Stoppard I am hesitant to call myself an intellectual. No one wants to seem pompous and full of themselves…do they? Well, anyway, I don’t. But I am intelligent and educated and I know I will never stop learning. So I guess I’ve got a reasonable amount of intellectual experience; at the very least, it means I should be able to write well!

9. You write about what you know. ~ Larry David Well, of course you do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to know more so I can write better. I mean…Cooper works for the Red Cross, and that means I have interviewed several people and read many articles and even handbooks, to be certain I am writing him accurately when he’s working. Maggie has a bookstore, which is not only my continuing wish, but also one of the best parts of my past, and very easy to write vividly as a result of it!

10. And if you don’t live, you have nothing to write about. ~ James Maynard Keenan I am always sad when I hear someone say they are bored. How could they be? There are so many things to read, to learn, to see, to hear, to do…to experience! I think if you are bored, you must be boring!

11. If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. ~ Anais Nin I am realizing as I write this that I know her works only through her quotes (which are wonderful.) That is something I must remedy.

 12. Never write anything that does not give you great pleasure. Emotion is easily transferred from the writer to the reader. ~ Joseph Joubert I am not sure I agree with this. I have read things written by people who really enjoyed what they wrote, but it didn’t mean they were well-written. Nevertheless, I can see some merit here….and I do enjoy being in the zone, whether it’s writing or reading; I love being completely lost in those pages. 

13. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself. ~ Jack Kerouac When writing a particular part of my novel, I had to close my eyes and just remember every detail of that moment. It came to me with astonishing clarity. Then, as a writing exercise, I wrote the same scene from the other person’s viewpoint, and later asked an old friend who was the inspiration for it if that was anything like the way he remembered it. He was stunned when he read it, asking me how I ever got inside his head. That is still one of my favorite scenes in the book.

14. Usually, I walk and think about things. When I come across a thought that makes me laugh, I write it down. ~Demetri Martin You know what? I’ve never done that. But I think now that I should!

15. I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze. ~ D. H. Lawrence I’ve had plenty of journal pages like that… but I think that’s where they should stay. 

16. Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. ~ Ray Bradbury Oh, I can’t add anything to this but a single word: YES.

 17. I write books to find out about things. ~ Rebecca West I can see this. I mean, it’s the reason I read…and I have learned so much more by writing, as well. May that ever be so.

18. Writing a story … is simply an exploration of the nature of behavior: why people do what they do, how it affects others, how we change and grow, and what decisions we make along the way. ~ Lois Lowry I am amazed at how often I have heard “You are writing our story.” My thought is always no, it’s Cooper’s and Maggie’s story, but I love that people can empathize and identify with them. It means I am doing something right, because who wants to read a book that doesn’t move you, shake you, even change you?

19. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. ~ Joan Didion I write when I cannot speak….as a way of making articulate what is completely inarticulate. It helps me understand things I will never be able to make sense of any other way.

20. And by the way, everything in life is writable about, if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt~ Sylvia Plath  No one could ever make me believe in myself until I DID. Now that I do, no one can take that from me. It is the reason I write, believing, always, that I will publish. It goes way beyond just wanting to; I truly believe I will. There have been lots of things I wanted, but the few things I have wanted with my whole heart, and never stopped wanting….I have achieved. This is no different. I write, because I love to write, and I will never stop. I may have doubts about every other thing in my life (no, I don’t, it’s just a way to state it) but I have no doubt at all about this. 

Each day you sit down (or stand up, or lie down!) to write, you face different challenges to your writing. How do you decide what to write about?

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