A Way to Discover

Blogging isn’t just a way to organize your research—it’s a way to do research for a book or essay or story or speech you don’t even know you want to write yet. It’s a way to discover what your future books and essays and stories and speeches will be about.”

— Cory Doctorow, “The Memex Method

Controlling Experience

Writing is control. The part of the university in which I teach should properly be called the Controlling Experience Department. Experience—mystifying, overwhelming, conscious, subconscious—rolls over everybody. We try to adapt, to learn, to accommodate, sometimes resisting, other times submitting to, whatever confronts us. But writers go further: they take this largely shapeless bewilderment and pour it into a mold of their own devising. Writing is all resistance””

— Zadie Smith, Intimations: Six Essays

The Work is an End

If you can work in such a way that the process will be pleasurable enough that even if nothing comes of it, the work is an end in and of itself—then you’ll be ok. It’s not a means to an end, the work is an end.”

— Jia Tolentino, On writing for the sake of writing

Tortoise

Oh, you do me wrong. Would I do anything wicked? I’m a peaceful soul, bothering nobody and leading a gentle, herbivorous life. And my thoughts merely drift among the oddities and quarks of how things are (as I see them). I, humble observer of phenomena, plod along and puff my silly words into the air rather unspectacularly, I am afraid.”

— Tortoise, Godel Escher Bach, Douglas Hofstadter

How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared released a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best things and the worst things in your life and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”

— Ray Bradbury