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Stephen Elliott Quotes

Stephen Elliott

Stephen Elliott quotes: on all things writing.

“I believe that everybody has at least one story, and if it’s well written, people will care.”

“You need massive bursts of confidence to do the work, to believe that anyone could be interested in what you have to say. But the dissatisfaction is part of what keeps us going. We have to keep creating our way out of this box we put ourselves in.”

“What we remember, and how we order and interpret what we believe to be true, are what shapes who we are.”

“We all think we’re retaliating, I say. That’s the nature of conflict. We all think our actions are justified by someone else’s actions. But actually, we’re responsible for what we do.”

“Change is good. If you’re not making changes and you feel like you’re struggling now more than ever, you could become a private equity deal and that will force change.”

“You can’t change all the ways in which you’re f*cked up. Especially the older you get. At some point, you have to accept these things about yourself.”

“I just think you have to change when your work gets stale. That’s why people go from one medium to another, but it’s not the medium, it’s what comes before that. It’s why you want to express yourself. That’s the highbrow way of talking about it. The lowbrow way, you know, is: I need attention and this is how I get it.”

“I started writing when I was 10, and I just kept doing it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a release valve.”

“I use my craft to process my life experiences—to put them out in the world as a way to understand and reconcile them, make them real.”

“In every book I ever wrote, the point was to do as much as you could after coming to terms with your limitations.”

“You learn from writing that some people like your books and some people don’t. And when you’re making a movie, you have a lot of people around you and you have to make creative decisions, and some of those people are not going to agree with those decisions and sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re right but not right for you. Sometimes they’re just wrong.”

“The ability to accept criticism without falling to pieces and to allow good ideas to come into the process without following every idea that everybody offers up and thereby losing the continuity of the voice, that’s something you definitely learn from writing books. You get a sense of what you like, it doesn’t make it right, but you need to have some core that allows you to say no: ‘I respect your opinion, but this is what I’m going to do.’ If you can’t do that, you can’t make a movie. So that’s key.”

“So much of writing is figuring out how I feel about something. Or I’ll know I feel strongly about something.”

“It’s a common misperception that for some reason we should be telling stories about other people instead of ourselves. It’s completely wrong because it overlooks the most important person, the reader.”

“There’s a lot to learn from uneventful lives. It’s the writing that’s important.”

“I think I succeeded at being as honest as I’m capable of being at this point in my life. You know, our honesty is bordered by our self-knowledge. You can only be as honest as you know yourself. Being honest in your writing isn’t about just not telling lies.”

“I love that I start writing and know the world already. I’ve established this world, and so the next one is always easier because I’m writing about a place that becomes more and more familiar to me.”

“That’s why you have to write your book right now, if that’s what you want to do. If you wait until you have the time, and the security, you might not want to do it. You’re in a race against your own enthusiasm. Don’t put it off because someone told you it’s never too late. That’s the worst lie. It’s never too late today, but it’s often too late tomorrow.”

“You have to write for yourself. I write the things that I’m moved to write, not what I think the time wants or what is marketable. These are the things that come out of me and need to come out of me when they come out of me. I write them, and I hope that people respond, but they don’t have to. That’s not the litmus test.”

“You should write for yourself. That the rewards of writing are not material. That you need a through line in your lives. You can’t just go from project to project, from book to mountain. You have to have community, continuity, rituals that keep you even as you change.”

“Write every day, but don’t beat yourself up. If you write every day for at least 20 minutes you’ll become a good writer.”

“Be careful who you write about.”

“I hate the term ‘marketing,’ even though I know it’s accurate. I feel like marketing is something Starbucks does. I just want people to read my books. And so all the ‘marketing’ ideas I have are really just about that, about getting people to read my books. Which is different from making money. Way different.”

“I’m not saying people shouldn’t work to get their stuff out there, but you’ve got to create a piece of art that at least some people love. If you don’t do that then all the marketing in the world won’t help.”

“I think you should approach marketing the way you approach writing. You have to be creative. There’s no point in doing something that everyone else is doing. Also, play to your strengths. Don’t start a Twitter account if you hate Twitter. Don’t try to sell to people you don’t respect.”

“The old adage to do what you love and the money will follow is not true, because the money doesn’t always follow. Do what you love, tighten your belt, and learn to live on less. I’m not complaining at all.”

“I’ve been really lucky.”

“I want to create new things.”

“I’m really into domesticity and crave stability. And yet, I ran away when I was 13 and just never stopped being that runaway. Something happens, and I leave places. I keep doing that over and over again. I can always justify it. I moved to L.A. because there’s something about me that keeps me always having to move to some other place. I don’t want to do to this, and yet the pattern is too strong to ignore for me. If I’m trying to make sense of myself, and I’m the only person who’s going to make the effort to do that, then I have to look at the patterns. I’m always looking at myself from the outside, trying to see myself as someone else sees me.”

“A stranger can see in an instant something in you that you might spend years learning about yourself. How awful we all are when we look at ourselves under a light, finally seeing our reflections. How little we know about ourselves. How much forgiveness it must take to love a person, to choose not to see their flaws, or to see those flaws and love the person anyway. If you never forgive you’ll always be alone.”

“You’d be amazed how much fun you can have if you get out of your own head.”

“We understand the world by how we retrieve memories, re-order information into stories to justify how we feel.”

“You can tell a lot about a person’s childhood by whether or not they like Christmas.”

“When we die our argument dies with us. The argument we never articulated well enough, that we were failed by our parents, and the schools, and the state. The cause of death is the missing safety net.”

Related: J. K. Rowling quotes.

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