Quotes on Writing

“I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark.” Henry David Thoreau
“Writing is an adventure.” Winston Churchill
“Know something, sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them.” Allan Gurganus
 “… only he is an emancipated thinker who is not afraid to write foolish things.” Anton Chekhov
“A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightening.” James Dickey
 “It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” Robert Benchley
“You ask for the distinction between the terms “Editor” and “Publisher”: an editor selects manuscripts; a publisher selects editors.” M. Lincoln Schuster
“A writer lives, at least, in a state of astonishment. Beneath any feeling he has of the good or evil of the world lies a deeper one of wonder at it all. To transmit that feeling, he writes.” William Sansom
“I don’t like to write, but I love to have written.” Michael Kanin
“However great a man’s natural talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once.” Jean Jacques Rousseau
“You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country.” Robert Frost
“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” Oscar Wilde
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” Cyril Connolly
“I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.” Peter de Vries
“A writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.” Burton Rascoe
“The secret of popular writing is never to put more on a given page than the common reader can lap off it with no strain whatsoever on his habitually slack attention.” Ezra Pound
“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” Elmore Leonard
“Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.” Lillian Helman
“I never knew what was meant by choice of words. It was one word or none.” Robert Frost
“Look for all fancy wordings and get rid of them…Avoid all terms and expressions, old or new, that embody affectation.” Jacques Barzun

“You must write every single day of your life…You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads….may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” Ray Bradbury

“What a writer brings to any story is an attitude…” John Gregory Dunne

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” E.L. Doctorow

“The idea is to get the pencil moving quickly…Once you’ve got some words looking back at you, you can take two or three – throw them away and look for others.” Bernard Malamud

“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” Jack Kerouac
“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison

“To be clear is the first duty of a writer; to charm and to please are graces to be acquired later.” Brander Matthews

“In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give to your style.” Sydney Smith

“…your reader is at least as bright as you are.” William Maxwell

“…you have to develop a conscience and if on top of that you have talent so much the better. But if you have talent without conscience, you are just one of many thousand journalists.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Whether or not you write well, write bravely.” Bill Stout

“The writer’s duty is to keep on writing…” William Styron

“Never trust the artist. Trust the tale.” D.H. Lawrence

“Caress the detail, the divine detail.” Vladimir Nabokov

“Details make stories human, and the more human a story can be, the better.”
“The first draft of anything is sh*t.” Ernest Hemingway 

“Use the right word and not its second cousin.” Mark Twain

“Real writers are those who want to write, need to write, have to write.” Robert Penn Warren

“You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.” Doris Lessing

“A woman must have money and room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Virginia Woolf

“Stick to the point.” W. Somerset Maugham

“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time…The wait is simply too long.” Leonard S. Bernstein

“The duty and the task of a writer are those of an interpreter.” Marcel Proust

“I seat myself at the typewriter and hope, and lurk.” Mignon Eberhart

“The business of the novelist is not to relate great events, but to make small ones interesting.” Arthur Schopenhauer

“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining…researching…talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.” E.L. Doctorow

“When genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.” D.H. Lawrence

“Never write about a place until you’re away from it, because that gives you perspective.” Ernest Hemingway

“I write the first sentence and trust in God for the next.” Laurence Sterne

“Writing a poem is discovering.” Robert Frost

“If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average.” Derek Walcott

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Mark TwainV.S. Pritchett

“Write what should not be forgotten…” Isabel Allende

“Even the most productive writers are expert dawdlers…” Donald M. Murray

“Too many writers are trying to write with too shallow an education. Whether they go to college or not is immaterial…a good writer needs a sense of the history of literature to be successful as a writer.” James Kisner

“Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.” Mark Twain

“You have typewriters, presses. And a huge audience. How about raising hell?” Jenkin Lloyd Jones

“Revise and revise and revise – the best thought will come after the printer has snatched away the copy.” Michael Morahan

“In a writer there must always be two people – the writer and the critic.” Leo Tolstoy

“Writing is a sweet, wonderful reward…” Franz Kafka
“The first rule, indeed by itself virtually a sufficient condition for good style, is to have something to say.” Arthur Schopenhauer

“Suspect all your favorite sentences.” Kenneth Atchity

“Don’t overwrite description in a story – you haven’t got time.” Elizabeth Spencer

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
Somerset Maugham

“Have something to say and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.” Matthew Arnold

“…writing comes more easily if you have something to say.” Sholem Asch

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury

“Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing….” Bernard Malamud
“Words have weight, sound and appearance; it is only by considering these that you can write a sentence that is good to look at and good to listen to.” Somerset Maugham

“Thoughts fly and words go on foot. Therein lies all the drama of a writer.” Julien Green

“A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann

“…therein is in writing the constant joy of sudden discovery, of happy accident.” H.L. Mencken

“Take away the art of writing from this world, and you will probably take away its glory.” Chateaubriand

“You must write for yourself, above all. That is [your] only hope of creating something beautiful.” Gustave Flaubert 

“Writing well is at one and the same time good thinking, good feeling, and good expression; it is having wit, soul, and taste, all together.” Buffon

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.” Truman Capote

“I always do the first line well, but I have trouble with the others.” Moliere

“A writer lives, at best, in a state of astonishment.” William Sansom
“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“You become a writer because you need to become a writer – nothing else.” Grace Paley“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” Gloria Steinem  

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