Monday Motivation (#8)

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Today’s Monday Motivation post is here to provide inspiration to keep you writing! In honor of the start of February – which is Black History Month in the U.S. – I’m highlighting some amazing quotes from black authors. These quotes aren’t strictly about writing but they can all relate to the writing process.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~ Maya Angelou

“Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it’s far removed from your situation. This is what I try to tell my students: this is one great thing that literature can do – it can make us identify with situations and people far away.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A lot of people refuse to do things because they don’t want to go naked, don’t want to go without guarantee. But that’s what’s got to happen. You go naked until you die.” ~ Nikki Giovanni

“… the truest writers are those who see language not as a linguistic process but as a living element…” ~ Derek Walcott

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” ~ Toni Morrison


There are many lessons that I can glean from these quotes, such as:

  • don’t become defeated while writing – you are the only one who sees the world as you do so you’re the only one who can tell your unique story! Sure, there will be setbacks (as with all things in life) but the most rewarding things in life are rarely the easiest.
  • when writing a story, imagine it from the perspective of a reader. Can they identify with your characters? Some of the most amazing stories I’ve read have centered around characters and situations I’ve never encountered before, and that made them unique.
  • be naked! (Not in public in real life, because you’ll probably be arrested.) But allow yourself to be exposed through your writing. That’s the only way you’ll get real feelings and emotions to come through onto the page.
  • remember that language is a living being and can be changed. There are rules of grammar but there are times in writing where they are meant to be broken. Writing is a fluid process.
  • and finally, I think Toni Morrison’s quote is pretty self-explanatory. If you want to write well, give up the expectations you (or others) have placed on yourself. It takes a lot of dedication, skill, timing and luck (and probably other things) to get on a best seller’s list. Not being on that list doesn’t make you a bad writer. You should write because you enjoy it – though it may be difficult at times – and because it makes you happy, not because you’re expecting to be the next [name of bestselling author in your favorite genre] and make a kajillionty dollars.

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