6 Steps To Great Quotes (Part 1)

she quotes_bubbleLike just about everything, the art of creating quotable quotes can be learned.

Once you know how, playing with ideas and words is easy, enjoyable and empowering.

It can also showcase your expertise, publicize your vision/mission, raise your profile, enhance your personal and/or professional brand and increase your business success.

When I first created @SheQuotesNow in November 2010, I had never (as far as I know anyway!), been quoted by anyone anywhere. Nor had I ever purposefully written a quote myself.

But as I asked friends, fans and followers to send me quotes for the newly established @SheQuotesNow Twitter account, (and later the SheQuotes Facebook page), I felt I should generate some of my own. I also wanted to lead by example and make my own quotes provocative, memorable and imminently “quotable.”

Having never written a quote before, I had a lot to learn. Once I got started, however, I discovered that creating quotable quotes others would find inspirational was simpler and more fun than I would have guessed.

My simple six-step process can help you get started, and keep you going once you do. Here are the first three steps:

1) Realize Your Worth

The first step may seem totally obvious, but it’s the one that a huge number of women (and some men) never dream of taking – it’s to realize that you have something worthwhile to say. As little girls, many of us are brought up to be “seen and not heard,” and to believe that our opinions and ideas didn’t matter. We are socialized to dumb ourselves down, hide our intelligence, and stifle (in some cases even completely silence), our voices.

We are taught to defer to boys and men at school and in the home, and later in the workplace. We learn that speaking up or speaking out is not a “lady-like” thing to do and that we should instead ‘stick to embroidery and kittens.’  This socialization is a powerful barrier to overcome, but the more we exercise our “voice muscle,” the more natural it feels to make ourselves heard.

Refreshingly, the way girls are raised and socialized is changing (though not quickly enough in my view), and little firecrackers such as Riley (on the ‘pinkification’ of toy stores), and Stella the four-year-old dinosaur expert are speaking out for themselves with considerable YouTube fanfare. 

2) Recognize Jewels

Second, broadly identify thoughts, ideas, knowledge, information, and/or expertise, that may be of interest to others, and thus worth sharing beyond your immediate circle of family, friends, and associates.

Home in on specific thoughts and strings of words that you would make good quotes. Powerful quotes have clearly recognizable qualities; they are (one or more of the following in no particular order):

  • Inspirational
  • Funny/humorous
  • Thought-provoking
  • Clever
  • Controversial
  • Insightful
  • Informative
  • Surprising
  • Emotional
  • Novel
  • Action-oriented
  • Meaningful to others
  • Rooted in the human experience

Random statements that lack these qualities do not great quotes make. For example, “I love puppies.” Is not a quote, it’s a statement. On the other hand, “Puppy love turned my world upside down – literally!” is quotable because it’s emotional and meaningful to others, as well as clever and surprising when attached to this kind of scene, or to awwww images such as these

3) ‘Rototill’ Your Word Garden

A rototiller is a small, motorized, plow-like machine some urban gardeners people use to till their plots.  You can till the garden of your spoken and written words to see what you can unearth, and to create fertile ground for the seeds of new ideas.

Listen to your words when you speak and your thoughts when you think, and learn to earmark those you think are catchy, cute or insightful. Write them down immediately so you won’t forget them (oops, I’m getting ahead of myself – that’s step #4…). If you have mastered Step 1, you will notice ever-greater amounts of wisdom pouring forth from your lips when you get into the habit of listening for it.

Even easier than listening to yourself is to re-read things you have written with an eye to spotting pearls of wisdom within your prose. Chop the paragraphs and sentences up. Read them out loud. Pretend the words belong to someone else. Once you get in the habit of spotting hidden gems, you’ll be surprised at how many you’ll find in your own writing.

Your own speeches and presentations may be another source of excellent quotes. Listen to yourself as you deliver, scan your slides for cool quips, and/or extract facts, statistics and research from written drafts. I source many @SheQuotesNow’s “VIP” quotable quotes from speeches and TED talks given by famous and not-so-famous presenters. For example, I extracted this list of 40 Jacqueline Novogratz quotes from five of her TED talks.

Likewise, your own blogs, comments and tweets may contain quotes just waiting to be discovered. These two mini tutorials featuring @SheQuotesNow contributor @WordHUGS (Facebook page Word HUGS) shows exactly what I mean. They both talk about identifying potential quotes in your own communication.




I’ll give you three more tips in a-soon-to-follow post. In the meantime, practice the first three steps to create your great quotes. Remember: 1) Realize your worth, 2) Recognize Jewels, and 3) Rototill your word garden.

Happy quoting!