How to Write Realistic-Sounding Inspirational Quotes (Part I)

Okay, there’s nothing wrong with quoting something useful once in a while.   But it seems to be getting out of hand, in my opinion.

Seems like half of Blogo-Land and the Planet Twitter has a copy of Bartlett’s Quotations on hand, that they just can’t WAIT to share with the other half.

Because apparently what some dead guy said 100 years ago is more valid and more inspiring that what we can come up on our own.

And apparently, we’re incapable of deciding how to run our lives unless we read what someone ELSE thinks first.  (Someone who most likely has never met us, and never will).

Well, call my a cynical old Friar, but I’m not that impressed with all these famous quotes.

Because, really….it’s NOT that HARD.

Follow these tips, and you can come up with inspirational quotes on your own,


1.  Make a list of Pleasant Nouns
Touchy-feely ones, that invoke warm fuzzy feelings.

Love, Hope, Inspiration, Music, Joy, Character, Dreams, Perseverance, Patience, Truth, Beauty, Creativity,  Beacon, Light, Tool, Knowledge, Honesty, Success, Jewel, Leadership, etc.

2.  Make a list of Unpleasant Nouns
That evoke negative images.

Hatred, Ignorance, Procrastination,  Sloth, Ignorance, Racism,  Failure,  Greed, Selfishness, Hesitation,  Cloud, Storm, Lies, etc.

3.   Make a list of Verbs
Think of “Action” verbs, including some opposites.

Illuminate, Shine,  Bathe,  Dirty, Soothe, Aggravate,  Drive (us),   Push (us),  Lighten/Darken, Conquer,  Shed (light),  Sharpen/Dull,  Succeed/Fail,   Win/Lose, Stop/Start, Lead/Follow, etc.

4.  Follow the generic template:
(NOUN) is the (NOUN) that  (VERB) (blah blah) (NOUN)


Music is the truth that soothes our soul.
Knowledge is the beacon that sheds light on our ignorance.
Creativity is the tool that sharpens success.

5.  Don’t be afraid to slightly modify the template, and mix and match opposites

1. (NOUN) is the (blah  blah) by which (VERB)
2. (NOUN) are (blah blah)  (VERB)


Perseverance is the means by which we succeed.
Procrastination is the means by which we fail.

Dreams are never realized by procrastinating
Dreams are always realized by perservering.

You can pick one or the other.  Either/or.  They mean the same thing.

6.  Pick a word, any word, and free-associate.

Take “Leadership”, for example.   Hmmm…what makes a good leader?

Leadership is knowing when to stop.
Leadership is knowing when to never quit.

Notice these two sentences are totally different.   Doesn’t matter which one you pick.  It’s all good.  (Because it’s an inspiration quote. It CAN’T be wrong, right?)

What would a shitty leader do? Try a “negative” sentence.

Hesitation and leadership never lead to winning.

To make it less obvious,  twist the words around, and make it a positive affirmation.

A leader who hesitates is the key to failure.

(You could have just as well used “procrastinates” here, or “is dishonest”, or anything else negative).

How about adding something with “dreams”?   (Dreams is always a sure-fire winner).     Hmm..let’s see.

A leader follows his dreams.

…(too simple!).    Let’s make it sound more artsy.   How about adding something about the leader’s dreams pushing us forward?

A leader is one who’s dreams propel us forward.

Still too simple.  Lets turn this into a simile.  (Or metaphor…I never could get those straight).

Fuel is to the engine, as dreams are to a leader : They both propel us forward.

(Oooh…now isn’t that DEEP?)    That one could have been said by René Descartes himself (if internal combustion engines existed in his time).

Go on…give it a try…you’ll be surprised what you can come up with.


Stay tuned for Part II:  More tricks and templates.  And coming up with fake names.

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26 Comments on “How to Write Realistic-Sounding Inspirational Quotes (Part I)”

  1. Karen JL Says:

    “Ignorance is the word that repeats in the second list.”

  2. Karen JL Says:

    Ima Pickyass, PhD.

  3. sillionshine Says:

    Those that fail first win last.

  4. Liz Says:

    (is secretly adding Friar to her list of people to quote in the future)… 😉

    “Friar is the beacon that illuminates the truth.”

    Do I get brownie points?

  5. Friar Says:

    Ooops. My Mistake, Ms. Pickyass.

    “Imperfection is the flower which occasionally colors the garden of our humanity”.

    – Professor F. Meigh.

    Oohhh…good one. Professor Meigh takes his hat off to you.

    I think that’s the first time I’ve been called a “beacon”. 😉

  6. Writer Dad Says:

    Dude, this is flat out amazing. I could use this formula forever and never get tired. Awesome.

  7. XUP Says:

    Inspirational quotes are the twitter of yesteryear.

  8. Those that ASPIRE must PERSPIRE!!

    Oooh it works!

  9. Friar Says:

    @Writer Dad

    Well, with your great writing skills, you should be able to crank these out by the dozen.

    (…probably even come up with better ones than I have!) 😉

    Journals are to Blogs as Inspirational Quotes are Twitter.

    Same principles. Just different audience sizes.

  10. Friar Says:

    Nice one!

    See? It’s that EASY!

    Now, go post it on Twitter, and you can join the ranks of the Wise and Enlightened.

  11. Brett Legree Says:

    This reminds me of Kiri-Kin-Tha’s first law of metaphysics:

    Nothing unreal exists.

    (From Star Trek IV)

  12. Friar Says:


    Wasn’t that the Star Trek where they SAVED the WHALES? (For cryin’ out loud!) 😦

    Reminds of another inspirational quote:

    Ooooooorggghhhhh MoooooorrrghhhGHH OOOOOooorrrrrgh

    – Shabu the Orca (Busch Garden Aquarium)

  13. Karen Swim Says:

    Lol. Well, you keep us from getting too sappy and that’s a great thing. I promise not to quote you on this though. 🙂

  14. Brett Legree Says:


    That’s right – see, we don’t have to save the whales, Kirk & Spock will do it for us. Maybe in Star Trek XX they’ll reverse global warming and freeze the polar ice caps for us.

  15. Friar Says:

    Maybe one day I’ll get extra sappy…just to throw everyone a curve ball. (and watch the Kleenex fly!);-)

    Yeah, howcome nobody from the Future is coming back to the present and saving us from ourselves?

    Maybe that’s a BAD sign…nobody’s around in the future, period.

  16. Patricia Says:

    Yeast leavens the bread as sitting in front of a computer all day expands ones horizons (think hips)

    Oh Oh been moving my energy around today again – It’s okay I walked in the rain and did not drive to my appointment..!

  17. I was thinking up some witty, I mean, inspirational response, but I got sidetracked. You see, I got to René Descartes, and the Philosophers’ Drinking song popped into my head. It’s still there damn it … “René Descartes was a drunken fart. I drink therefore I am.”

  18. Friar Says:

    René Descartes got away with being a drunken fart, because he made up for it with lots of good quotes.

    Probably helped that he did math and other shit too.

  19. Friar Says:


    I think you’re on the verge of a good one with the yeast analogy. (expanding your mind, perhaps).

  20. Elvina Gani Says:

    wooow…cool tips..
    Been having major problems with poems though..

  21. Sofia Says:

    Truth is the tool that pushes us towards honesty.

    I don’t know if this is a good one or anything, but… Yeah

  22. Sofia Says:

    Or if it’s true… I don’t know. I just made it up…

  23. […] Write your own inspiration. Check out this site. […]

  24. Lily Says:

    Creativity is the fuel that powers innovation.

  25. suskar Says:

    “Time is not fun as it waits for none “

  26. suskar Says:

    “Time is not fun, as it waits for none”

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