planning & productivity writing

Doing the work: 21 valuable quotes to help you show up

September 26, 2017

doing the work

As I was working on my post, 20 Practical Ways of Showing Up and Being Brave (and Helpful), I went back to my collection of quotes to consider different angles of showing up and doing the work. This was such a valuable exercise in itself, so I thought I’d share the quotes that popped up.

They tell a story about the different dimensions of doing your work. As a collection, they highlight values such as courage, action, uncertainty, mindfulness, prioritising, soulfulness, mystery and trust. I flag these many dimensions of doing your work here too to inspire you from all these angles.

Which one resonates with you the most right now?


Don’t underestimate the extraordinary effect you have every single time you show up to a situation with an open, loving heart.

Scott Stabile, in Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart


Let’s pay attention only to where we are.
There’s only enough beauty in being here and not somewhere else.

Fernando Pessoa, in A Little Larger than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems


So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?

Elizabeth Gilbert, in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear


You are what you’ll do, not what you’ll say you’ll do.

Carl Jung


The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art – Inspirational Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts


To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


I can’t think of anything else necessary to a writer except a story and the will and ability to tell it.

John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters


Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address


Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.

Stephen King, from an interview in the London Independent (March 10, 1996)


The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.

Caroline Myss


Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

Anne Lamott, TED Talk


Courage starts by showing up and letting ourselves be seen.

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead


Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich


What’s important is the work. That’s the game I have to suit up for. That’s the field on which I have to leave everything I’ve got.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art


I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.

Somerset Maugham (as quoted in The War of Art – see #16).


In terms of Resistance, Maugham was saying, “I despise Resistance; I will not let it faze me; I will sit down and do my work.”

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art


The professional trusts the mystery, He knows that the Muse always delivers. She may surprise us. She may give us something we never expected.

Steve Pressfield, Turning Pro


…that practice must be focused. It must possess intention. Our intention as artists is to get better, go deeper, to work closer and closer to the bone.

Steve Pressfield, Turning Pro


If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcuts.

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.

Bob Goff


Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.

Martha Graham

Which quote sings to you? Or share your own special quote!

I’d love to know which words sing to you the loudest right now!

Or share your own special quotes that motivate you in showing up and doing the work, day in and day out.

Let’s create a whole army of inspiration to help us (or make us) do the work.

Share your story in the comments below or on Instagram or Facebook!

Feature image from

Below pic features my desk inspiration with card #42 The Word Wants to be Written from the Sacred Rebels Oracle Deck.

Note also: the nearly empty bottle of ink – work has been done!!

doing the work

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You might also enjoy:

20 practical ways of showing up and being brave (and helpful)

Creative and connected #12 – the courage to show up

Intuition, writing and work: eight ways intuition can guide your creativity

Creative and Connected #5 – being accountable to ourselves and others

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