Most good stories die before they are born simply because their authors fail to understand this. That little voice inside says to them, “This is wrong, all wrong,” and they panic, they think they have failed and they quit.

– Stephen Koch, The Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop

You can be guided at every step by only one intuition: your own sense of rightness. But the sense of rightness can come only after you have been guided away from ten thousand wrong turns by your sense for what is wrong.

– Stephen Koch, The Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop

Even if you are quite successful, it will be hard maintain a decent income strictly through your work. So make your peace with the need to make your living elsewhere—and make the most of it.

– Stephen Koch, The Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop

Since writing is what generates inspiration—and not the reverse—abundant writing produces abundant inspiration.

– Stephen Koch, The Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop

Dishonesty about what really pleases your imagination is outright dangerous to you as a writer

– Stephen Koch, The Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop

At a certain moment in your life as a writer, you should resolve to read only what really matters to you. Not what people say should matter. What does. You should seek that out relentlessly, find it, and then you should read and read and read.

– Stephen Koch, The Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop

Closing the Gap

Your inadequate attempts at creating will tell you what you need to learn. They will act as guide, as mentor. They are not a reflection of you, your soul or your essential self. They are indicators of which faculties need enrichment, development, refinement.

So write, create, draw, make and do it as well as you can and know that it will be bad. And by bad, all I mean is that it will not be up to your standards. This is good. Because only now can you begin to see the difference between where you are and where you want to be. Only now can you begin to close the gap.

Just dream it up and let the thing play itself out as it seems to want to, and then write it again, and still again, dreaming it through, and then try to be terribly smart about it.

— Richard Bausch

If the voices keep calling, if the itch remains, no matter how punishing the work or inhospitable the world, then you must take a long hard look at all the writing you’ve been attempting to do all your life and commit to it.

— Betsy Lerner

Talent, even of a very high order, cannot sustain an achievement, whereas a ruling passion gives to a shelf of novels the unity of a system.

— Graham Greene