As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.
Joan Didion was an impeccable woman with a keen sense of irony that made her excel at non-fiction writing. On December 5, 1934, Joan was born to parents Frank Reese and Eduene Didion in Sacramento, California. Where her desire to become a world-famous writer would soon aspire at the age of five.
Generally timid in personality, Joan was not fond of being part of the limelight, thus avoiding public speaking at all cost. Yet, over time she able to get a handle on things and overcome her phobia. While growing up Didion enjoyed Ernest Hemingway’s literature which led to her future career in writing.
In the 1960s Joan got her start in the form of an award-winning essay that gained notoriety and a sponsor from Vogue magazine. If you only read one of Joan’s books, we HIGHLY recommend The White Album, a collection of some of her best essays and one of her top selling books ever!
Our following list of 35 Joan Didion quotes is her most popular and greatest among the rest. They’re structured around various topics including those which evoke warm-hearted feelings of inspiration. Read them with care and an open heart, taking a mental note of the ones that touch something deep inside.
Joan Didion Quotes
1. “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” — Joan Didion
2. “I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise, they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.” — Joan Didion
3. “As it happens I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language, and I am not optimistic about children who will settle for saying, to indicate that their mother and father do not live together, that they come from a broken home.” — Joan Didion
4. “There is in Hollywood, as in all cultures in which gambling is the central activity, a lowered sexual energy, an inability to devote more than token attention to the preoccupations of the society outside. The action is everything, more consuming than sex, more immediate than politics; more important always than the acquisition of money, which is never, for the gambler, the true point of the exercise.” — Joan Didion
5. “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” — Joan Didion
6. “A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty.” — Joan Didion
7. “During the blue nights you think the end of the day will never come. As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience an actual chill, an apprehension of illness, at the moment you first notice: the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone.” — Joan Didion
8. “Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.” — Joan Didion
9. “We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.” — Joan Didion
10. “I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment.” — Joan Didion
11. “Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.” — Joan Didion
12. “We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. ” — Joan Didion
13. “Time is the school in which we learn.” — Joan Didion
14. “I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.” — Joan Didion
15. “To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves–there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.” — Joan Didion
Related: Kurt Vonnegut Quotes
16. “A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.” — Joan Didion
17. “We are the stories we tell ourselves.” — Joan Didion
18. “We know that someone close to us will die. We might expect to feel shocked. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind.” — Joan Didion
19. “That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted, after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.” — Joan Didion
20. “Americans are uneasy with their possessions, guilty about power, all of which is difficult for Europeans to perceive because they are themselves so truly materialistic, so versed in the uses of power.” — Joan Didion
21. “What I want to tell you today is not to move into that world where you’re alone with yourself and your mantra and your fitness program or whatever it is that you might use to try to control the world by closing it out. I want to tell you just to live in the mess. Throw yourself out into the convulsions of the world. I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t believe progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m telling you to live in it. Try and get it. Take chances, make your own work, take pride in it. Seize the moment.” — Joan Didion
22. “This is a story about love and death in the golden land, and begins with the country.” — Joan Didion
23. “Life changes fast. Life changes in an instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” — Joan Didion
24. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live. We live entirely by the impression of a narrative line upon disparate images, the shifting phantasmagoria, which is our actual experience.” — Joan Didion
25. “It is impossible to think of Howard Hughes without seeing the apparently bottomless gulf between what we say we want and what we do want, between what we officially admire and secretly desire, between, in the largest sense, the people we marry and the people we love. In a nation that increasingly appears to prize social virtues, Howard Hughes remains not merely antisocial but grandly, brilliantly, surpassingly, asocial. He is the last private man, the dream we no longer admit.” — Joan Didion
Related: Ann Lamott’s Best Quotes
26. “Life changes fast. Life changes in an instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” — Joan Didion
27. “The past could be jettisoned . . . but seeds got carried.” — Joan Didion
28. “You can throw a novel into focus with one overheard line.” — Joan Didion
29. “I am a writer. Imagining what someone would say or do comes to me as naturally as breathing.” — Joan Didion
30. “Grammar is a piano I play by ear.” — Joan Didion
31. “Maybe once you realized you had to do it alone, you were on your way home. And maybe the most difficult, most important thing anyone could do for anyone else was to leave him alone; it was perhaps the only gratuitous act, the act of love.” — Joan Didion
32. “There’s a point when you go with what you’ve got. Or you don’t go.” — Joan Didion
33. “The fancy that extraterrestrial life is by definition of a higher order than our own is one that soothes all children, and many writers.” — Joan Didion
34. “Can you evade the dying of the brightness? Or do you evade only its warning? Where are you left if you miss the message the blue nights bring?” — Joan Didion
35. “I know something about dread myself, and appreciate the elaborate systems with which some people fill the void, appreciate all the opiates of the people, whether they are as accessible as alcohol and heroin and promiscuity or as hard to come by as faith in God or History.” — Joan Didion
Joan Didion Video
This is a legendary interview with Joan in 1992 after she had achieved prominence and fame. Definitely worth a watch.
Related: Anais Nin Quotes
The next time you need encouragement about aging or life itself, browse back through these Joan Didion quotes! She puts things in a straightforward yet, positive light.
She puts things in a straightforward yet, positive light. So, take her words to heart and keep an ear out for those who vibe with your inner-self. We hope you enjoyed our collection of quotes and gain some insight into which to use in the future.
Recently, Netflix had a show about Joan. If you are a fan – and we are – it is a must watch! Here is the trailer:
Image Credit: ““Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs.” – Joan Didion #wcw #wce” byTradlands is licensed under CC BY 2.0