Shakespeare: Oh, I have not a stinking clue by what means I create or recreate these adventures that live inside my soul. I stare at these cursed pages and think, who-ever told me I should compose even the dung-heaps of words such as I have done? Once in a fit of despair I ate all the Shrewsbury cakes Anne had but recently baked. They did not assist me.
James Joyce: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man? I worked for five years on a novel about that moo-cow. I thought that was the story! [Chuckles.] I still think that had some of my best work. Ah, but that moo-cow, he well and truly lived.
Interviewer: Do you ever experience self-doubt about your work?
Kurt Vonnegut: Many times I've attempted to drown myself in my bathtub because who in blazes would care about my weird time-traveling spacey fiction? I can't ever do it, though, you tried doing that? Self-drowning, I mean. Harder than it looks. So I towel off and call an old pal—yeah, I've got a couple of those, but only a couple—and we go out to a hole in the wall and drink all the Scotch and he's like, "Remember Slaughterhouse-Five? You've done this before, now stop whining like a little girl." And I'm all, "You're right, ol' pal." But secretly I'm like, "Oh, shit." [Sighs deeply, which turns into a hacking cough.]
Emily Dickinson: It’s like I forget how to put words together sometimes, you know? Like, do these even make sense anymore? So I think, fuck it, I’ll add a shit-ton of dashes. And now it’s, like, my thing. Someone's going to figure out that I don't know what I'm doing at some point, right?
Interviewer: What’s your typical writing day like?
Eudora Welty: Oh, my, let me think. I invariably begin my day by Googling “what if I have no more good ideas and there's no point in my writing.” Then I spend a good two hours gazing at the latest draft of a story. I will dislike it, sometimes violently. Then I’ll recall a music video I used to enjoy, perhaps that one by Heart, and I have simply no choice but to find it on Youtube. Finally, I spend about fifteen minutes laying words down slowly and painfully, like a bricklayer who’s plumb forgotten how to lay bricks. And then I take a lovely nap right on my keyboard. [Chuckles delicately] Right on it!