9 T. S. Eliot Quotes To Motivate You Through NaNoWriMo

Stuck in a creative rut? Feeling anxious about your work? Turn to these motivational T. S. Eliot quotes to get you writing again!

Book Culture Favorite Quotes Lifestyle On Writing Self Help
T. S. Eliot sitting at a table with lots of papers on the surface

With NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, halfway done, it can be easy to feel burnt out. Luckily, we can turn to these T. S. Eliot quotes for the motivation to push through and finish strong. Keep these in mind while you’re writing!


“Good writers borrow. Great writers steal.”

T. S. Eliot

When you’re writing, it can be difficult to come up with an idea that seems “original” enough. In fact, with all the stories already floating around in the world, this task is pretty impossible. Inevitably, you’ll recognize that certain plot points or characters share similarities with those in your favorite books. Instead of shying away from these similarities, lean into and personalize them! It’s totally normal for your writing to look like an amalgamation of all your favorite authors. By “stealing,” their styles, you’re actually creating your own!


“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?

T. S. Eliot

For me, this quote perfectly sums up NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a challenge that’s supposed to be difficult, but that’s the fun of it! By taking up this challenge, we get to see what we’re capable of, or “how tall” we really are.


“Teach us to care and not to care

Teach us to sit still”

T. S. Eliot, from “Ash Wednesday
A black pen writing in cursive on a sheet of notebook paper

This quote really helps me when trying to make everything perfect gets in my way. It’s really important to be passionate and care about your work. You want to write something you can be proud of. However, it’s equally important to not care too much about your work, or you’ll never get anything down on the page. Writing requires a balance of both caring and not caring, and this line captures that struggle perfectly.


“It’s strange that words are so inadequate. Yet, like the asthmatic struggling for breath, so the lover must struggle for words”

T. S. Eliot

This is the quote that I turn to whenever I have writer’s block. I love it because Eliot puts a romantic spin on something that writers often find so frustrating. When I hear this quote, I’m not bitterly pacing around my room, trying to figure out where to take my story. Instead, I’m a lover searching for the perfect words.


“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity”

T. S. Eliot

NaNoWriMo can definitely be a stressful time, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with time constraints and everything else going on in your life. Instead of freezing up and dwelling on how anxious you are, try to turn that nervous energy into excitement. When you stop for a moment to think about your anxiety, it might even inspire some new ideas!


“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time”

T. S. Eliot, from “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets
The four books of "Four Quartets," the source of two of these T. S. Eliot quotes

This is the perfect quote for recognizing the journey through your writing ability that NaNoWriMo takes you on. It’s a reminder that once you reach the end of the month and look back on all the exploring you’ve done, it will all have been worth it.


“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers”

T. S. Eliot

This is one that I love to laugh at. It reminds me that there isn’t really a term for “failed writer;” if you enjoy your work, then who cares what or how you write? It’s also useful for boosting your confidence. If Eliot can call published writers “failures” even though they’ve been successful, it takes a bit of the pressure to be a perfectionist off.


“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”

T. S. Eliot

This quote is great for motivation. If you want to put down your pen for the day, think about it for a second. Is this as far as you can go? If so, that’s great! Celebrate what you’ve written for the day and take a break. But if you still have a little more in you, see if you can really go the distance!


“For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business”

T. S. Eliot, from “East Coker,” Four Quartets

The most important thing about NaNoWriMo is the trying. Even if you bend the rules a little or you don’t make it to the end of the month, it’s important to recognize that you tried. In my opinion, trying your hardest still counts as a success.

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