45 Fabulous Brenda Ueland Quotes

Brenda Ueland was a known journalist, editor, and writer. She is best known for her book, ‘If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence, and Spirit’ where she teaches on this very topic. Living a very prolific life and career, here is a look at some of the best Brenda Ueland quotes that continue to live on.

“A great musician once told me that one should never play a single note without hearing it, feeling that it is true, thinking it beautiful.”

“Advertising companies hire the very brightest, wittiest young people to write for them. Not one single sentence of it is worth repeating. Why? Because it wasn’t meant.”

“At last I understood that writing was this: an impulse to share with other people a feeling or truth that I myself had.”

“But here is an important thing: you must practice not perfunctorily, but with all your intelligence and love.”

“Creative power flourishes only when I am living in the present.”

“Don’t always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers. “I will not Reason and Compare,” said Blake; “my business is to Create.” Besides, since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable.”


“Even if I knew for certain that I would never have anything published again, and would never make another cent from it, I would still keep on writing.”

“Everybody is original, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from himself. But it must be from his *true* self and not from the self he thinks he *should* be.”

“Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.”

“Everyone is talented, original and has something important to say.”

“Everyone knows how people who laugh easily create us by their laughter,–making us think of funnier and funnier things.”

“Families are great murderers of the creative impulse, particularly husbands.”

“I found that many gifted people are so afraid of writing a poor story that they cannot summon the nerve to write a single sentence for months. The thing to say to such people is: “See how *bad* a story you can write. See how dull you can be. Go ahead. That would be fun and interesting. I will give you ten dollars if you can write something thoroughly dull from beginning to end!” And of course, no one can.”

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten – happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.”

“I learned…that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.”

“I want to assure you with all earnestness that no writing is a waste of time–no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something.”

“I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five or six mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”

“If I did not wear torn pants, orthopedic shoes, frantic disheveled hair, that is to say, if I did not tone down my beauty, people would go mad. Married men would run amuck.”

“If you write, good ideas must come welling up into you so that you have something to write. If good ideas do not come at once, or for a long time, do not be troubled at all. Wait for them. Put down little ideas no matter how insignificant they are. But do not feel, any more, guilty about idleness and solitude.”

“Inspiration comes to us slowly and quietly. prime it with a little solitude.”

“Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic energy striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time.”

“It is only by expressing all that is inside that purer and purer streams come.”

“It is so conceited and timid to be ashamed of one’s mistakes. Of course they are mistakes. Go on to the next.”

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created.”

“No writing is a waste of time–no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work.”

“Of course, in fairness, I must remind you of this: that we writers are the most lily-livered of all craftsmen. We expect more, for the most peewee efforts, than any other people.”

“Remember William Blake who said: “Improvement makes straight, straight roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.” The truth is, life itself, is always startling, strange, unexpected. But when the truth is told about it everybody knows at once that it is life itself and not made up. But in ordinary fiction, movies, etc, everything is smoothed out to seem plausible–villains made bad, heroes splendid, heroines glamorous, and so on, so that no one believes a word.”

“Sometimes I think of life as a process where everybody is discouraging and taking everybody else down a peg or two.”

“Strength to your sword arm!”

“The best way to know the Truth or Beauty is to try to express it. And what is the purpose of existence Here or Yonder but to discover truth and beauty and express it, i.e., share it with others?”

“The imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”

“The only good teachers for you are those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny; whose attitude is:”

“The only way to become a better writer is to become a better person.”

“The only way to write well, so that people believe what we say and are interested or touched by it, is to slough off all pretentiousness and attitudinizing.”

“The tragedy of bold, forthright, industrious people is that they act so continuously without much thinking, that it becomes dry and empty.”

“The true self is always in motion – like music, a river of life, changing, moving, failing, suffering, learning, shining.”

“There is that American pastime known as “kidding” – with the result that everyone is ashamed and hangdog about showing the slightest enthusiasm or passion or sincere feeling about anything.”

“They cannot understand that the figure of a laborer— some furrows in a plowed field, a bit of sand, sea and sky— are serious objects, so difficult but at the same time so beautiful, that it is indeed worth while to devote one’s life to the task of expressing the poetry hidden in them.”

“Think of yourself as an incandescent power, illuminated and perhaps forever talked to by God and his messengers.”

“This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.”

“We are always afraid to start something that we want to make very good, true, and serious.”

“We have come to think that duty should come first. I disagree. Duty should be a by-product. Writing, the creative effort, the use of the imagination, should come first – at least, for some part of every day of your life. It is a wonderful blessing if you use it. You will become happier, more enlightened, alive, impassioned, light-hearted and generous to everybody else. Even your health will improve. Colds will disappear and all the other ailments of discouragement and boredom.”

“When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life.”

“Work freely and rollickingly as though you were talking to a friend who loves you. Mentally (at least three or four times a day) thumb your nose at all know-it-alls, jeerers, critics, doubters.”

“Writing is not a performance but a generosity.”

Here is a unique look at the book ‘If You Want to Write’ by Brenda Ueland from the perspective of one reader that is currently reviewing it.

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