Writer’s Quote Wednesday–A Sufi Proverb

Monument Valley with Sufi Proverb text

Newbie alert – I’m participating, for the first time, in Writer’s Quote Wednesday a feature over on Silver Threading Blog.

For years, I’ve kept a journal where I pen down meaningful bits of this and that. The cover is faded now but was once a colourful mix of pastel flowers. I have chosen this little Sufi gem from that journal because I’ve often found myself coming back to this quote. For writers, the truism in these few words imparts a necessary imperative.

At every single stage of the writing process, there are no signs saying do this or do that.

Sage advice abounds and writers worth their salt certainly read and study those posts, articles and books with avid interest.

Pantster, plotter or planner, point-of-view purist or head-hopper, cut your darlings or write a Game of Thrones type saga, shelve the first draft for months or go from start to finish without taking a breath – we take it all in and on some days the conflicting nature of the advice can drive us nuts.

When I face the blank page with my fingers poised over the keyboard, I’m on my own with the characters I’ve created. There is no rule that says they shall not eat stones. Only I can hear their voices and be true to the various stories they inhabit.

We owe our characters something that no one else can give them. So, learn the rules, read the advice and then throw it all away and listen to those voices in your head.

21 comments on “Writer’s Quote Wednesday–A Sufi Proverb

  1. Welcome and thank you for sharing your fabulous quote! I love it. Your words have imparted a knowledge that fills my soul. I promise to listen to the voices in my head! LOVE it!! Thanks again. ❤

  2. diannegray says:

    I just love throwing away the rule book, Francis! And this quote is truly brilliant 😀

    • I totally agree, Dianne. But of course, it is only after having read the rule books (and posts and articles etc.) that one has the courage and confidence needed to throw them away. Ironic, right?

  3. Yes to throwing away the rule book! Great quote, Fran.

  4. jenanita01 says:

    Finally…some really sensible advice!

    • Thank you for the comment and the reblog. It’s really all about confidence, isn’t it? We have to get to that spot where we know in our gut exactly what a character would say or do.

  5. Brilliant post, Francis! I love that quote and it took me a while to understand it fully. Your advice is perfect, ‘We owe our characters something that no one else can give them. So, learn the rules, read the advice and then throw it all away and listen to those voices in your head.’ I may need to quote you on one of these Writer’s Quote Wednesday. 😉

  6. Trying to catch up on my blog reading. 🙂 This is just what I needed to read this morning. Love it! Know the rules, throw away the rules, pick up some of the rules, discard some of them again. For me the rule right now is ‘just write!’ Have a great weekend, Fran.

  7. Behind the Story says:

    I like your advice, Francis. One could also say, don’t limit yourself by the rules OR by the ordinary, normal things that first pop into your mind. Let your characters do something as strange as eat rocks.

    • Yes! I like that – my characters do some strange things – without a doubt. My job as the one writing down their story is to make sure the reader understands why eating stones makes sense to that particular character at that particular time. Motivation is important.

  8. […] Today is  Writer’s Quote Wednesday hosted by Colleen from Silver Threading […]

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