Words to Write—and Live—By with Virginia McCullough

We write. It’s what we do. It’s part of who we are and how we define ourselves and our lives. Maybe because we love words so much we collect quotes. Some are meant to give us a well-timed nudge, some validate our dreams in subtle ways, but our favorite quotes usually remind us to believe in ourselves and our work. Here’s a sampling of my favorite quotes. 
Some have meanings that go way beyond writing, like this from Nora Roberts: 
If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.
And I like the simple (but not necessarily easy) advice from Susan Wiggs. Slightly paraphrased, she says:  
Write every day, and do it with your whole heart. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Toni Morrison tells us to jot down all our wild and seemingly improbable ideas, because you might have a job to do:

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
I first came across this quote by Gloria Steinem when I still had big family responsibilities. I even used it on my website, and every woman I’ve ever known can relate to it for all kinds of reasons: 
Writing is the only thing, that when I do it, I don’t think I should be doing something else.
Years ago, a few decades, actually, I saw this Tennessee Williams quote on a notecard and have kept it nearby ever since. I’m not exactly sure why I keep it, but maybe it inspires me to remember to make the most of my life in every way—and that includes writing: 
Make voyages. Attempt them. There is nothing else.

Photo by Bobby Burch on Unsplash

This is one of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quotes, and she’s a treasure of inspiration. I recall laughing out loud when I first read this one. It sure helped me shake off my “maybe someday” fantasies and get down to working on real goals.
It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

Another short quote, this one from William James, was given to me on a postcard and dates back to the days I spent mostly ghostwriting nonfiction for all kinds of people, including healthcare practitioners and lawyers, but also women and men with sensitive and painful stories to tell. James’ words help me honor the people who trusted me with their expertise and experiences. Only later did it dawn on me it applies to my fiction, too: 
I will act as thought what I do makes a difference. 

Next to last, there’s one quote I read often, because it reminds me of how incredibly fortunate I am and how precious life is: 
I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.
That quote comes from Anne Frank, yes, that Anne Frank. My heart aches to think of how young she was when she wrote that—and how brave. 

So, I’ll end this by going from these lofty thoughts to something concrete, true, and expressed in slightly lighter terms. Here’s what Anne Rice has to say writing:  
To write something you have to be willing to make a fool of yourself.

Ah, yes, I’ve done that a few times. So, these are a few of my favorites. Will you share a couple of yours?  

Virginia is excited about her upcoming December release, The Christmas Kiss, the second book in her Back to Bluestone River series. The first, A Family for Jason, was released in August. An author of both fiction and nonfiction books, she’s also a ghostwriter/editor and a coach for other authors at various stages of their careers. Her other Harlequin Heartwarming books include: Girl in the Spotlight, Something to Treasure, and Love, Unexpected. She also writes award-winning women’s fiction, including The Jacks of Her Hart, Amber Light, Island Healing, and Greta's Grace. All Virginia’s stories explore themes of hope, healing, and plenty of second chances. 

You can add you name to Virginia’s mailing list at www.virginiamccullough.com and visit her on Facebook and Twitter


  1. These are wonderful quotes Virginia! I like Eleanor Roosevelt’s too and found Ann Frank’s both poignant and prescient. I can’t think of any of my own at the moment...early morning here...:) but your last one from Ann Rice is certainly applicable to me too. A writing life is a special one, isn’t it?

    1. Thanks--I think Rice's quote sums up the mindset we need to create anything. And, yes, Eleanor's words of wisdom are for a humorous reminder to keep moving forward.

  2. Great posts, Virginia! I love quotes and you listed some of my favorites and a few I hadn't heard before. My very favorite quote isn't really for writers, but for readers. That's the one by George R.R. Martin about "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one."

    1. I like Martin's quote, too. It's making the rounds lately and rings so true. We storytellers also live many lives and meet and endless stream of people, at least in our heads. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Great quotes. The one about being willing to make a fool of yourself especially made me chuckle. I do oral storytelling and learned a long time ago that you have to be willing to risk looking foolish if you are going to do it well.

    1. Yes, anyone doing performance art has to accept risk. Good for you for doing oral storytelling. I admire those who can do that.

  4. We are writers, and we never ask one another where we get our ideas; we know we don't know.

    Stephen King

  5. “Writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

    ― Shannon Hale

  6. I love quotes, too! And I also love the look of your December release!

    1. Thanks--the December release is my first holiday book.

  7. Here's an old quote (Seneca, Philosopher): "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." My mother used to say it to me often when I was growing up, and I think of it often when writing.

    1. I've heard that one all my life, too. It's really true!


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