Updated: Mar 27
To enhance your writing, you must do two things: write more and read more.
Well, maybe it’s not quite that simple, at all, but you know what I mean…
The type of literature you consume will impact the type of writing you do, and the type of writing you do can potentially change the world.
It’s crucial for women writers like you to share your narratives across genres, knowing you’re contributing a literary mark through your human experience.
The stories you create, the pieces of unique perspective, the complex depths of you that shine through in your work are all necessary to the collective.
And I’ve got ten quotes from some of the most influential women writers in feminist history to help me prove it to you.
Read works by women who don’t just inspire you to write better but to be better, to join the greater masses of the literary community who pave the way for more stories to be told, more truths to be heard, more words to be written.
“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
-Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Emily is my favorite poet. She was a strong-minded woman who was way more progressive than her time. Slighted of any awards in her career, Emily’s experimental use of new forms in poetics was truly revolutionary. We love a woman with an unconventional writing style. Read “Hope” is a thing with feathers and feel it in your soul.
“To be an artist includes much; one must possess many gifts — absolute gifts — which have not been acquired by one’s own effort. And, moreover, to succeed, the artist much possess the courageous soul … the brave soul. The soul that dares and defies.”
-Kate Chopin (1851-1904)
Oh, Kate, this daring, rebellious woman who foreran all that is 20th-century feminism. I read The Awakening with my jaw-dropped because I could not believe how forthcoming her counternarratives were, and how bold she was in choosing to bring powerful female characters into the literary world without having any qualms about it. During that era? Fearless!
“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. Might as well speak of a female liver.”
-Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)
Okay. I’m calling you out. If you haven’t read “The Yellow Wallpaper” you’re living under a rock and I’m totally fine with you leaving this post to go read it because it will shake you to the core. A heavy hitter for social reform, a novelist, a speaker, and overall pioneer for the discussion of women’s mental health, I give all the standing ovations to Gilman.
“It is only when we can measure the way of life and experience made possible to the ordinary woman that we can account for the success or failure of the extraordinary woman as a writer.”
- Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
Virginia is the queen of stream of consciousness writing and, many say, the founder of modern feminist literary criticism, passionately exemplifying independent women who had free visions, and filling the silence in the fight for economic and societal equality. To The Lighthouse heavily discusses themes of self-fulfillment and human desire.
"Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind."
-Toni Morrison (1931-2019)
I think of my experience reading Beloved for the first time; provoked, gut-wrenched, and awe-inspired. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Beloved engages with audiences as one of the most influential representations of the African American experience. Not to mention, I will stand firm in saying it is also one of the most beautifully crafted works with regard to the use of literary devices.
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
—Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Sylvia is an author that every woman should read from a feminist lens, revealing just how much she raised her voice against the patriarchy without most of us ever raising an eyebrow. The Bell Jar is dismal, a tragically alarming Roman a clef that uncovers the need for autonomy and access to health care. Not to mention, her poetry. Need I say more?
“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't.”
- Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
With works that called out classism and homophobia, Audre was a Harlem, New York activist who paved the way for black lesbians by challenging the taboos and breaking the stigmas through her writing. Sister Outsider is a groundbreaking book of essays and speeches with an intelligence that is so formative for the radical pedagogy she believed in for the progression of black women in society.
“I think writing really helps you heal yourself. I think if you write long enough, you will be a healthy person. That is, if you write what you need to write, as opposed to what will make money, or what will make fame.”
- Alice Walker (1944 - )
The first African American woman with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and most known for her profound work in writing The Color Purple, Alice is monumental to human rights advocacy and feminism. She’s responsible for the movement of Womanism, which is a social theory opposing racism in the feminist community, and has authored over 50 books to date, focused on the experience of black women in society.
"It didn't occur to me that my books would be widely read at all, and that enabled me to write anything I wanted to. And even once I realized that they were being read, I still wrote as if I were writing in secret. That's how one has to write anyway — in secret."
—Louise Erdrich (1954 - )
Born of a Chippewa Indian mother, Louise seamlessly blends the history of the Native Americans with the transparency of the human experience of her various characters in works like The Nightwatchman and many others. The multi-award-winning author of almost 30 books is one of the most significant writers representing Native American culture and oppression.
-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977 - )
Kudos to anyone who’s already familiar with Chimamanda. She is an accomplished scholar, a force in the feminist world, and an asset to the literary community. The renowned Nigerian author of Half of a Yellow Sun and much more is a novelist, writer, and activist whose works speak through history to create an impact today.
Continue to diversify the narrative, push boundaries, explore, innovate, create work that makes you a benefactor for accelerating women in literature. The Handmaid’s Tale, A River of Stars, and The Book of Longings are some examples of contemporary feminist fiction you should be reading.
Do you have an influential woman author who inspires you? Let us know in the comments!
Until next time, writer friends,
Christine Weimer is a writer, publisher, and award-winning author from Queens, New York who co-founded Our Galaxy Publishing as the Editor-in-Chief to amplify women's voices in publishing. Her first poetry collection, Tainted Lionheart, won the Gold Medal Poetry Award for Readers’ Favorite 2021. She is currently writing the final installment of her poetic series and working on her MA in English while honing all the guts and glory of motherhood. Visit her personal blog here: amindfulwriter.com