Why Quote Einstein When You Can Quote Yourself?
We all love a good quote from a reputable name. I do too. By associating our work (and thus ourselves) with an authority on the subject, their prestige, eminence, credibility or down right wit rubs off on us. There’s nothing wrong with that. Unless everybody is doing it. Which is pretty much what’s happening with quotes these days.
We’ve probably read more Hemingway quotes than his novels. We probably know more about Einstein through his hit parade of pithy statements than his theories about relativity and quantum physics. Some of us may have used Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ words to express the reality of death and dying. Others of us may have sought to inspire our readers by dipping into the many words of wisdom from Maya Angelou. I plead guilty to all of the above. There is nothing more beautifully said than a quotable quote.
However, the downside of quoting quotes is that it becomes cliché. Just as citing an overused phrase or opinion betrays a lack of original thought, so too, citing yet another quote reminds us of all the quotes we’ve ever read. This can lead to the conclusion that the writer is riding on another’s originality rather than offering a fresh new thought (or an old thought freshly said) to our understanding.
After all, isn’t that what good writing is about? To make visible the invisible; to express what the reader cannot express; to simplify the complicated; to give a fresh take on things.
Perhaps the most challenging (but definitely most rewarding) of all writing is to compose an original thought in the form of a quote. You only have to write one to experience that lasting moment of poetic championship. Believe me, it will stay with you for a lifetime. If you are serious about good writing, I recommend you try your hand at one original quote. It helps if you acquaint yourself with literary devices; they hold many formulas to quotes that stick.
Here are 5 tips for writing an original, quality quote:
- Be true to your self
- Live through your quote
- Feel it as part of you
- Make it mean something
- Use patterns of expression (see Literary Devices: The Herbs ‘n’ Spices of Compelling Copywriting.)
And here are 8 quality quotes from original thinking:
They are written by participants of my Copywriting in Action course as an optional extra assignment to the group project: Climate of Ingenuity (a book of true stories about people dedicating their technical, engineering and scientific ingenuity to climate change mitigation). Not everybody took the challenge but those that did experienced a Mt Olympus moment. The brief was to express the need for human ingenuity in the face of a climate crisis. The following quotes were sprinkled throughout the book as thought-provokers between stories:
The earth’s resources are finite; the human spirit of ingenuity is not.
Progress is not always about looking forward, but also looking up, down and around.
The most renewable of all energy sources is the human spirit in times of adversity.
Nature has grown the solutions all along.
We have always tried to dictate our natural environment, now we should take heed while she still has life in her.
At last! Mother Nature’s tolerance for our selfish, destructive and consumptive human nature has reached its limit.
Whilst harnessing resources to fuel progress is one vital aspect of human ingenuity, giving back to the environment by way of protection and care is the obligatory other.
Suchismita Saha Chowdhury
We have nothing but our limitless ingenuity to reverse the effects of our unlimited indulgences.
See what a first time quote writer can come up with when they apply those 5 tips and a dash of fresh thinking? With a little finesse and a lot of feeling, they spoke volumes with just a few choice words. That’s the aim of copywriting just as it is with poetry and prose.
So the next time you’re tempted to reach out for the dictionary of quotations, I encourage you to try your hand at an original one. It may not be easy but it’s well worth the effort.
To quote from your’s truly:
Writing an original quote begins with a meaningful idea and ends with a meticulous edit.
Meanwhile, my online copywriting course’s latest timetable is ready to take enrolements today.