Category Archives: Octavia Butler

First Forget Inspiration. Habit Is More Dependable. Habit Will Sustain You Whether You’re Inspired or Not

Octavia Butler? Apocryphal?

octavia08Dear Quote Investigator: Recently, a publisher in Silicon Valley tweeted an illustration of the prominent science fiction author Octavia Butler together with a quotation that offered intriguing advice about writing. The quote began:

First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable.

When were these words written or said by Butler?

Quote Investigator: Octavia Butler penned an essay addressed to aspiring writers titled “Furor Scribendi” that appeared in the ninth anthology of the series “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future”. The piece was reprinted in the 1995 collection “Bloodchild: And Other Stories”. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.

Butler also presented a refreshingly provocative viewpoint about talent:

Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1995, Bloodchild: And Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler, Furor Scribendi, Start Page 137, Quote Page 141, Four Walls Eight Windows, New York. (Verified with scans)