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16 Quotes on Writing by Octavia E. Butler

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Octavia E. Butler on Writing

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
“It’s amazing what we can do if we simply refuse to give up.”
“I was attracted to science fiction because it was so wide open. I was able to do anything and there were no walls to hem you in and there was no human condition that you were stopped from examining.”
“A workshop is a way of renting an audience, and making sure you’re communicating what you think you’re communicating. It’s so easy as a young writer to think you’re been very clear when in fact you haven’t.”
“Writing is one of the few professions in which you can psychoanalyse yourself, get rid of hostilities and frustrations in public, and get paid for it.”
“And I have this little litany of things they can do. And the first one, of course, is to write – every day, no excuses. It’s so easy to make excuses. Even professional writers have days when they’d rather clean the toilet than do the writing.”
“I think writers use absolutely everything that happens to us, and surely if I had had a different sort of childhood and still come out a writer, I’d be a different kind of writer.”
“Fantasy is totally wide open; all you really have to do is follow the rules you’ve set. But if you’re writing about science, you have to first learn what you’re writing about.”
“When I began writing science fiction, when I began reading, heck, I wasn’t in any of this stuff I read. The only black people you found were occasional characters or characters who were so feeble-witted that they couldn’t manage anything, anyway. I wrote myself in since I’m me and I’m here and I’m writing.”
“We are a naturally hierarchical species. When I say these things in my novels, sure, I make up the aliens and all of that, but I don’t make up the essential human character.”
“I thought I was on my way as a writer. In fact, I had five more years of rejection slips and horrible little jobs ahead of me before I sold another word.”
“If you want a thing — truly want it, want it so badly that you need it as you need air to breathe, then unless you die, you will have it.”
“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.”
“I write about people who do extraordinary things. It just turned out that it was called science fiction.”
“My writing can be a kind of therapy for me, and I’m sure some of their origins extend well back into my childhood.”
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