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Writers go through phases.
There are times when the words spill out on the pages without any effort required. And there are times when we are unable to put together a single phrase—writer’s block.
I’m a firm believer that not writing is actually a really important part of writing. It allows you to gather your thoughts and pick up inspiration from different places.
One of my favorite ways of recovering my writing spark is reading quotes by other popular writers. This week I’m dedicating my post to the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. As well as a novelist, she is also a poet, feminist, teacher, and environmental activist.
She is probably most well-known for her famous novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which became a global bestseller. Atwood knew she wanted to be a writer from a young age and has been a voracious reader since childhood.
As well as being a phenomenal writer, Atwood has some brilliant quotes on the process of writing itself, on inspiring other writers to just “go for it” when putting their own words down on paper. You don’t need to be a writer to write. You just have to do it.
I’ve put together a list of 12 great Margaret Atwood quotes on the topic of writing. Maybe they can inspire you to bring out your own inner writer.
“If I waited for perfection I would never write a word.”
“A word after a word after a word is power.”
“Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”
“Possibly, then, writing has to do with darkness, and a desire or perhaps a compulsion to enter it, and, with luck, to illuminate it, and to bring something back out to the light.”
“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language.”
“All writers are double, for the simple reason that you can never actually meet the author of the book you have just read. Too much time has elapsed between composition and publication, and the person who wrote the book is now a different person.”
“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”
“I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment. ‘Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt?’ And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.”
“Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that’s wrong. They know less, that’s why they write. Trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted.”
“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”
“Writing…is an act of faith: I believe it’s also an act of hope, the hope that things can get better than they are.”
“The reader cannot see into your heart. He will know only what you tell him. Make the blind see your words. Make the hard-hearted feel. Make the deaf hear.”