3 Quotes every Writer should Ink to their Souls.

Via Janne Robinson
on Jul 11, 2014
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Some days we stumble across words that leak into our souls and feel like a breeze on a sweltering, hot August day.

They give us some relief,  sweet redemption and allow us to exhale festered artistic torment we didn’t even know existed.

As an artist, and a writer we essentially drop our soul’s briefs each day. We let our souls bleed. Our hearts open and our words and love fills the edges of paper with our vulnerability. We get naked each time we publish an article. It’s liberating and terrifying. We give quietly and tremendously to the world.

One of the most valuable things I have learned while learning to stand in my power with my writing voice is that we mustn’t create for anyone other than ourselves.

People may read the words we release and devour them, starved. They may go viral and a woman will approach you in a coffee shop with stars in her eyes and make you feel like a pen baring Rock Star for a few minutes. Or it will flop around like a dead fish and people will walk by unamused and uninterested.

You must be a writer to write. When we give we must give without expectation to receive. We must throw our creative children into the deep end and let them fend, battle, have nose bleeds and make it on their own. Whether they are teased or welcomed with open arms is out of our control.

Half of art is not in the hands of the creator. We can burn with desire and intent and write furiously to communicate a message to our readers, but half of it will be how they choose to absorb it.

You are only accountable for half the creative process. You have zero control on what happens after you press the “submit” button. You must just give and then let go. Hear the affection and animosity and pick up a pen and create anyway.

If you are a wordsmith, ink these words to your soul:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

~ Anne Lamott

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”

~ Alan Watts

“If a writer is so cautious that he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never write anything that can be read. If you want to help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn.”

~ Thomas Merton



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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s Own; Sloane Smith/Unsplash


About Janne Robinson

Janne Robinson is a poet, writer, bushwalker, idealist and animal activist currently residing in Vancouver Island. She cuts kindling with her teeth, eats Bukowski for breakfast and makes the habit of saying the word feminist as much as possible. She surfs naked, pees in the woods, and loves whiskeys that swing their hips when they walk and know what they are doing. Janne's life-work is to be transparent. She makes a living off hanging her dirty and clean laundry out for the world to see. Her mission is to give others permission to also walk and exist with the same transparency. You can connect with her on TwitterInstagram and Facebook. Please also visit and connect with her Facebook writer's page. Check out Janne's website.


9 Responses to “3 Quotes every Writer should Ink to their Souls.”

  1. yoga freedom says:

    Brilliant! I love your attitude. Here's another awesome quote on writing:

    Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

    With Metta, Michelle

  2. Thanks for sharing these quotes Janne. I really enjoyed this piece. I write because I have so many stories inside. Somehow, letting them out gives me peace.

  3. Ringo says:

    Exhilarating and inspiring quotes and your own words are true as well.

    One negative comment, however, from an underground grammarian. The title of your piece is in need of repair. "3 Quotes every Writer should Ink to their Souls." Aside from a confusing mix of lower-case and upper-case and use of a numeral (3) instead of a word (three), you have mashed-up singular and plural. "3 Quotes every Writer (that would be singular, as in one writer) should Ink to their (that would be plural, whereas using his or her would be singular) Souls."

    I didn't invent the rules. You can break them, like e.e. cummings, but, when you do, your writing credibility can take a beating.

  4. Shale says:

    This is from Letters To A Young Poet:

    You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must", then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Don't write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: they are the hardest to work with, and it takes a great, fully ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty Describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don't blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world's sound – wouldn't you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. And if out of , this turning within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. So, dear Sir, I can't give you any advice but this: to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to, the question of whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    "the use of plural pronouns to refer back to a singular subject isn’t new: it represents a revival of a practice dating from the 16th century. It’s increasingly common in current English and is now widely accepted both in speech and in writing." http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/he-or-

    The two other things you mentioned are elephant journal style choices.

  6. Ringo says:

    Thanks for the comment. Language is dynamic and I'm certainly not going to argue with the Oxford Dictionaries!

  7. Lorraine says:

    Great stuff! Anne Lamott is one of my favorite people in the universe. If you haven't read her "Bird by Bird," about writing, you really need to read it. She is a national treasure, if you ask me!

  8. jannerobinson says:

    Thank you for the suggestion Lorraine!

    Will look it up. 🙂

  9. Janne says:

    Thanks Janne! I always love your posts. This one struck a chord with me and helped to convince me to start blogging again.