4 Quotes About Not Forcing Ideas

1) From William Zinsser’s book, On Writing Well. Zinsser used to teach writing at Yale:

“Students often tell me they have an idea for an article that would be perfect for New York, or for Sports Illustrated, or for some other magazine. That’s the last thing I want to hear. They can already picture their story in print — the headline, the layout, the photograph and best of all, the byline. Now all they have to do is write it. This fixation on the finished article causes writers a lot of trouble, deflecting them from all the earlier decisions that have to be made to determine its shape and voice and content.”

2) From Jerry Seinfeld’s show Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee:

Dave Chapelle: It’s like the idea says “get in the car.” And I’m like “where am I going?” And the idea says “I don’t know. Don’t worry, I’m driving.” And then you just get there. Sometimes I’m shotgun. Sometimes I’m in the f — ing trunk. The idea takes you where it wants to go. And then other times there’s me — it’s my ego, like, “I should do something”.

Seinfeld: “I should be driving.” That’s not good.

Chapelle: No, cause there’s no idea in the car. It’s just me. That formula doesn’t work.

3) From an interview with Jim Davis, creator of the Garfield cartoon strip:

“Essentially, I write on funny days. Some days I wake up funny, and that’s when I write. If I’m not, I do anything or everything else. It may take an hour, it may take two hours to get in that mood.”

4) From Steve Martin’s book, Pure Drivel:

“At the time of this writing, I have not worked in a movie for three years. During these years, in which I vowed to do nothing and leave myself alone about it, I accidentally produced several plays, a handful of sketches, two screenplays, and a reorganization of my entire self. The pieces in this book, these essays — I’m not sure what to call them — are little candy kisses, after dinner mints to the big meal of literature, but to me they represent something very special. They are the offspring of an intense retrospection that enabled me to get back in contact with my work, to receive pleasure from my work, and to bring joy to my work. They also enabled me to repeat the phrase “my work” three times in one sentence, which brought me a lot of joy, pleasure, and contact. I suppose what I’m saying is, if you really want to work, stop working.”