Brenda Ueland

Literary Birthday – 24 October – Brenda Ueland

Brenda Ueland was born 24 October 1891, and died 5 March 1985.


  1. At least I understood that writing was this: an impulse to share with other people a feeling or truth that I myself had. Not to preach to them, but to give it to them if they cared to hear it.
  2. It is only by expressing all that is inside that purer and purer streams come.
  3. Everybody is talented because everyone who is human has something to express. Try not expressing anything for twenty-four hours and see what happens.
  4. Families are great murderers of the creative impulse, particularly husbands.
  5. 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: ‘Tell me more. Tell me all you can. I want to understand more about everything you feel and know and all the changes inside and out of you. Let more come out.’ And if you have no such friend,—and you want to write,—well, then you must imagine one.
  6. 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.
  7. You have noticed how teachers, critics, parents, and other know-it-alls, when they see you have written something, become at once long-nosed and finicking and go through it gingerly sniffing out the flaws. AHA! a misspelled word! as though Shakespeare could spell! As though spelling, grammar and what you learn in a book about rhetoric has anything to do with freedom and the imagination!
  8. So you see the imagination needs moodling, – a long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering.
  9. 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. It has done you good. It has stretched your understanding.
  10. 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.

Brenda Ueland was a journalist, editor, freelance writer, and teacher of writing. She is best known for her book If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit.

Source for Image

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by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 24th October 2013