Posted in Writing

4 Quotes by Markus Zusak to Make You a Better Writer

Markus Zusak (born in 1975) is the bestselling author of The Book Thief and Bridge of Clay.

Here are four of his wonderful quotes to inspire your writing!

1. I try hard and aim big. People can hate or love my books but they can never accuse me of not trying.

We come to the final entry of my author quotes series with some of the most inspirational quotes around! Marcus Zusak has given us one of the most magnificent novels of all time in The Book Thief, and whatever you may think about the book, whether you love it or hate it, the man is absolutely right: you can’t accuse him of not trying. His award-winning novel is told on an epic scale, with an unusual and creative narrator, with some of the most stunning prose around, and whether you’re taken with the book or find it overrated, his command of the craft of writing is undeniable.

If you want to have a successful career as an author, it’s pivotal that you try hard and aim big every time. Your stories themselves don’t necessarily need to have an epic feel to them, but your ideas should be creative, and you should be willing to take big, bold chances. Don’t just write the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t just write the same old thing you wrote last year and the year before. Be willing to aim big and fail hard. Be willing to do something that might crash and burn.

That’s how you learn as a writer. That’s how you get better. And that’s how you ultimately find success.

2. I find writing extremely difficult. I usually have to drag myself to my desk, mainly because I doubt myself. And it’s getting harder because I want to improve with every book.

As soon as the act of writing comes easily and naturally to you, watch out. I mean, sure, there will be days when you know exactly what you want to put down on the page, and the words will flow from minute one. Those are the best days. The ones where you get all the writing done in an hour or two, and you feel like you can conquer the world for the rest of the afternoon. Writing will feel easy like that sometimes. And it’s not necessarily the case that every day should be extremely difficult. If every time you sit down to write, you’re struggling to get a sentence written, you might eventually give up, and nobody wants that.

But the writing should be hard more of the time than it’s easy. When it’s hard, you’re actually doing good work. Because that means you’re pushing yourself to do better. You’re not allowing mediocrity to spill onto the page like you might have allowed a few years back. You do want to improve with every book you write, and the way to do that is grow as a writer, not just stay on the same path you were on before. And this is hard enough when you haven’t had anything published yet, when there are no expectations from readers for your work.

Imagine what Marcus Zusak has to go through as the author of The Book Thief to try to improve with every book that comes after that. To try to top The Book Thief over and over again is one difficult task! But at the end of the day, it’s a task that is essential. Because if you’re not at least trying to do better work, then you’ll stop growing for good./media/dfc8c929c0f78543b6fbebb8efdc298f

3. I like the idea that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It’s probably what I love most about writing — that words can be used in a way that’s like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around.

One of the most magical elements of writing is that every day you’ll able to create something on the page that has at least a single gem on it. No, not everything you write will be a gem, that much is certain. You will sit down at your desk every day to draft your new novel, and some days you will feel like every word on the page stinks with mediocrity. You’re not supposed to get it all exactly right in the first draft, so don’t panic about doing good work at this point. Just getting the story down is what you’re aiming for. Just reaching THE END is the number one goal.

But even on those days when the writing isn’t flowing the way you want it to, you’ll be surprised to learn that there’s always going to create some kind of gem during a writing session, sometimes two gems or more. Those gems can come from an exchange of dialogue between characters that works especially work, or an image depicted in a single sentence that pops off the page. Sometimes it’s just the rhythm of a paragraph or a perfect word you come up out of the blue. All it takes is a single gem amidst the carnage in a day’s writing session that will keep you coming back for more the next day.

And remember this, too — even if the last ten paragraphs have been terrible, even if everything you’ve been writing since you sat down is complete shit, the next paragraph, the next sentence, the next word, can work beautifully. Can be a gem. And when you revise, your goal is sift through your manuscript looking for as many gems as you can. I promise you, with enough work and effort, you’ll be finding plenty.

4. Failure has been my best friend as a writer. It tests you, to see if you have what it takes to see it through.

My writing life would be a whole lot different if I never failed at anything, and I’m sure your writing life would be different in this case, too. I’m so used to failure and rejection at this point that neither one ever fazes me. I have a short story that’s been rejected by about fifty literary magazine editors, and I’m still sending it out. I’ve written novels I spent years on that ultimately never went anywhere and that are now sitting in my drawer collecting dust. These failures and rejection don’t get me down. Instead they test me and they inspire me to see if I have what it takes to try again and keep going.

If you want to be a successful writer, you’ll need to keep going, too. Your patience will be tested. You’ll be frustrated at times. There’s nothing worse than putting your heart and soul into a writing project for months, sometimes years, and then see it flounder, see it rejected across the board until there’s no one left to send it to. What makes you a real writer is having the ability to put a manuscript aside and start another one. Yes, even if you’ve written ten of them already. Yes, even if you think your newest is your finest work yet. You have to put it away, not think about it for awhile, and start something else.

Don’t be afraid of failure, and don’t let it get you down when the failure inevitably comes. Use that failure as a learning experience and keep going always. You’ll be glad you did!

Success! You're on the list.

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