View Full Version : Favorite Writing Quotes

10-19-2006, 10:27 PM
What writing-related quotes keep you motivated or really speak to you about the craft of writing?

Thomma Lyn
10-19-2006, 11:32 PM
Here are some of my favorites:

"If the book is good, is about something that you know, and is truly written, and reading it over you see that this is so, you can let the boys yip and the noise will have that pleasant sound coyotes make on a very cold night when they are out in the snow and you are in your own cabin that you have built or paid for with your work." ~ Ernest Hemingway

"The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails." ~ James Joyce

"A serious writer would gladly swap 100 readers now for 10 readers in 10 years or one reader in 100 years." ~ Flannery O'Connor

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." ~ Isaac Asimov

"Fiction is the truth inside the lie." ~ Stephen King

"Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand -- a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods -- or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values." ~ Willa Cather

10-20-2006, 12:41 AM
I read this on Ray's blog, and since I'm always feeling guilty for either running after money or ruining my life in the name of art, I've put this as a post-it on my desktop to look at everyday.

"Art is wonderful and grand and all that, but if no one sees your art, who are you really serving? I want to get paid for my art, so I can afford to continue to show you my art."

A balanced verdict on the business vs. art debate, if I ever saw one.

10-20-2006, 12:44 AM
I used to have a huge file of quotes, and read through them when I had writer's block (and then my computer died).

There is one I love actually, it's from Star Trek: DS9, IIRC, the episode was called "Far Beyond the Stars" where Sisko is/imagining he is a writer. At the end he asks which was real and Kai Opaka says: "You are the dreamer, and the dream."

I like it because it speaks to that (teeny-weeny) belief that all this exists somewhere.

Simon Woodhouse
10-20-2006, 02:17 AM
'The only difference between a published author and an unpublished author, is the published one didn't give up.'

I don't know who said this, and I probably haven't worded it as per the actual quote, but the sentiment has helped me along during some of the bleaker moments.

10-20-2006, 02:25 AM
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
Minds are like parachutes, they only work when they're open. Author unknown.

10-20-2006, 02:40 AM
None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

10-20-2006, 03:47 AM
Write a little every day, without hope and without despair.

--Isak Dinesen

Thomma Lyn
10-20-2006, 06:12 AM
Cool beans, just found this:

The Web's Most Humongous Collection of Writing Quotes (http://home.earthlink.net/~wallinger/quotes.html#lucre)

Lots of good stuff there. Happy perusing! :)

Ol' Fashioned Girl
10-20-2006, 06:15 AM
This one has been stuck on my computer cases through the rise and fall of the last five...

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead. - Gene Fowler

(And wonderful site, PL!)

10-20-2006, 09:26 AM
Well, I have one here below, and one in my profile, and the the following three are ALSO from Natalie Goldberg:

There is no excuse. If you want to write, write. This is your life.

The only failure in writing is when you stop doing it.

I feel very rich when I have time to write and very poor when I get a regular paycheck and no time time to work at my real work.

Yes, she's my guru. All of the above have actually helped me immensley, and helped me stay on course and true to my dreams and desires.

10-20-2006, 01:11 PM
eschew surplusage
- Mark Twain

Actually anything said by Mark Twain (http://users.telerama.com/~joseph/cooper/cooper.html).

Oh, and the quote I have in my sig.

:e2BIC: 10000

10-20-2006, 02:41 PM
This was supposed to be a cheesy quote given by the narrator of Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. I have it pinned to the wall above my monitor:

"At the end of every short story the reader should feel as if a cloud has been lifted from the face of the moon"

10-20-2006, 02:51 PM
This isn't specific to writing, in fact, it came from a painter, but I apply it both to my writing and to my knitting designs...

Billie Shelburn: Be independent of the good opinion of others and you won’t believe how that will free your creative self.

And then there's Kierkegaard (translator unknown): Only when I write do I feel well. Then I forget all of Life’s vexations, all its sufferings, then I am wrapped in thought and am happy.

10-20-2006, 02:54 PM
ooh, Maggs! I love the Kierkegaard quote. Perhaps I should put that on my wall with the Chabon quote! Thanks.

Nicholas S.H.J.M Woodhouse
10-20-2006, 03:03 PM
'write like your face is on fire' - ktc

10-20-2006, 03:05 PM
I'm flattered. (-;

Sheryl Nantus
10-20-2006, 03:38 PM
But Eeyore was saying to himself:
"This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it".


10-21-2006, 03:16 AM
My favorite is:

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."-Benjamin Franklin

Unfortunately, I don't do enough of either! :D

Some others I like are:

Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.

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

Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!
Edna Ferber

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


10-21-2006, 03:46 AM
I have a couple of writing quotes, but my favorite writings are from books.

· ”Brevity is the soul of wit.” ~ William Shakespeare
· “It is always a writer’s duty to make the world better.” ~ Samuel Johnson
· “A writer betrayed by his own words.” ~ David Baldacci
· “Every volume has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” ~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon
· “Step by step the narrative split into a thousand stories, as if it had entered a gallery of mirrors, its identity fragmented into endless reflections.” ~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon
· “We were always two fugitives riding on the spine of a book, eager to escape into worlds of fiction and secondhand dreams.” ~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon
· “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” ~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon
· “The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving that person forever.” ~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon
· “Fine lines bracket her mouth, parentheses around a lifetime of words I was not around to hear.” ~ Jodi Picoult
· “Before I understood that the smile of a child is a tattoo: indelible art.” ~ Jodi Picoult
· “In this way, in increments both measurable and not, our childhood is stolen from us - not always in one momentous event but often in a series of small robberies, which add up to the same loss.” ~ John Irving
· “He used to say that life was all about a boy finding the perfect girl; he was lucky enough to have been handed his in a labor and delivery room.” ~ Jodi Picoult

12-24-2011, 04:27 PM
... can't think of any quotes. Neat ones above. Maybe you know of some more :-)

Charles Farley
12-24-2011, 05:04 PM
"When the going gets weird . . the weird turn pro"

Hunter S. Thompson

12-24-2011, 05:34 PM
There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are. - W. Somerset Maugham

A problem cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it. - Albert Einstein

Beware the person with nothing to lose. - Italian proverb

and the quote in my sig. That's my favorite ever!

12-24-2011, 10:26 PM
"Sometimes it's like jumping out of an airplane and hoping you can knit a parachute before you crash." -Neil Gaiman

12-24-2011, 10:35 PM
"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -- Ray Bradbury

12-24-2011, 11:31 PM
Here's my fave for years:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou (Reader’s Digest, June 2001 issue, page 73)

12-25-2011, 12:37 AM
My faves:

"The story is always better than your ability to write it. My belief about this is that if you ever get to the point that you think you’ve done a story justice, you’re in the wrong business."- Robin McKinley

"Of course I work hard. Why shouldn't I? Who am I to think I should get things the easy way?" - Judy Holliday

Miss Plum
12-25-2011, 09:44 AM
Samuel Johnson:

Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

A La Vanille
12-25-2011, 01:37 PM
I have quite a few. :)

"Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either." - Meg Cabot (I follow this rule as I write.)

"I do a first draft as passionately and as quickly as I can. I believe a story is valid only when it's immediate and passionate, when it dances out of your subconscious. If you interfere in any way, you destroy it." - Ray Bradbury (How I write my first drafts.)

"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 (An anti-thesis to 'write what you know', which I don't agree with.)

"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be." - Mark Twain (Although I don't see a problem in the word very, I just like the humor in this.)

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." - Stephen King

"It is often been said
there's so much to be read
you can never cram
all those words in your head.
So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.
That's why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader's relief is.
And that's why your books
have such power and strength
You publish with shorth!
(Shorth is better than length.)" - Dr. Seuss (Because I believe in the simplicity of words.)

"All you have to do is write one true sentence. The truest sentence that you know." - Ernest Hemingway

"Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want." - Stephen King

"Not writing is a great deal worse than writing." - Flannery O'Connor

"Don't tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass." - Anton Chekhov (Love this quote for showing, not telling.)

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." - Ray Bradbury (I think someone already mentioned this, but it was worth mentioning again.)

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth." -Kurt Vonnegut

"The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say." - Anais Nin

"Don't write about Man; write about a man." - E.B. White

"Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For these two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people." - Roald Dahl

"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." - Vladimir Nabokov

"I am simply of the opinion that you cannot be taught to write. You have to spend a lifetime in love with words." - Craig Claiborne

"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones to form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment." - Hart Crane

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." - Saul Bellow (ha, ha, I do this a lot.)

"Which is why I am writing this book. To think. To understand. It just happens to be the way I'm made. I have to write things down to feel I fully comprehend them." - Haruki Murakami

"The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write precisely what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish." - Robert Louis Stevenson

"I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live." - Anais Nin

"There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you." - Beatrix Potter

"Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins." - Neil Gaiman

"This is how you do it: you sit down at your keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." - Neil Gaiman

"I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions." - James A. Michener

"Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly and tell it as best as you can. I'm not sure there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." - Neil Gaiman

"Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory." - Tennessee Williams

"That's why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can't control life, at least you can control your version." - Chuck Palahniuk

"There are three rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." - W. Saumerset Maugham

Ha, ha. That's quite a lot of quotes. Sorry for all that. I keep a quote blog, so I do daily quote hunting and the quotes I really like I save. :)