Quotes About Writing

Below is a selection of quotes about writing that I like, there is a lot out there but these are some of my favourite ones.  Many ring true to me when I am working on a piece.

If you know of any you would like to see added feel free to send me some.


“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.” – Stephen King


“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” – Ray Bradbury


“Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.” – Mark Twain


“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.” – Somerset Maugham


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


“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.” – Flannery O’Connor


“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” – Herman Melville


“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway


“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” – Henry David Thoreau


“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


“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.” – Edgar Rice Burroughs


“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  – Ernest Hemingway


“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”  – Maya Angelou


“The true writer has nothing to say. What counts is the way he says it.” – Alain Robbe-Grillet


“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” – Ayn Rand


“Fiction is about stuff that’s screwed up.” – Nancy Kress


“Poetry creates the myth, the prose writer draws its portrait.” – Jean-Paul Sartre


“The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.” – Russell Baker


“Half my life is an act of revision.” – John Irving


“Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.” – Willa Cather


“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.” – Harlan Ellison


“People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” – Barbara Kingsolver


“A word is dead, When it is said, Some say. I say it just begins to live that day.” – Emily Dickinson


“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E. L. Doctorow


“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” – Gustave Flaubert


“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.” – Robert Graves


“It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.” – Isaac Asimov


“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner


“Begin with an individual, and before you know it you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find you have created… nothing.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald


“I can’t write five words but that I change seven.” – Dorothy Parker


“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” – Ursula K. Le Guin


“Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.” – A. A. Milne


“Literature is all, or mostly, about sex.” – Anthony Burgess


“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” – William Faulkner


“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.” – Ray Bradbury


“Anecdotes don’t make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.” – Alice Munro


“You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.” – Larry Niven


“Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them.” – Isaac Asimov


“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” – Terry Pratchett


“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” – Robert A. Heinlein


“The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.” – Richard Wright


“No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing.” – E. B. White


“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” – Lloyd Alexander


“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” – Stephen King


“A poet can survive everything but a misprint.” – Oscar Wilde


“In general…there’s no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.” – Anne Lamott


“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


“Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences.” – Anne McCaffrey


“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favour.” – Edgar Rice Burroughs


“If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic.” – Ursula K. Le Guin


“All the information you need can be given in dialogue.” – Elmore Leonard


“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” – Orson Scott Card


“All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.” – Somerset Maugham


“Writing is its own reward.” – Henry Miller


“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” – Ernest Hemingway


“It is perfectly okay to write garbage — as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C. J. Cherryh


“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” – Anaïs Nin


“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” – Jane Yolen


“We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.” –  Vladimir Nabokov


“Reading is more important than writing.” – Roberto Bolaño


“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” – Franz Kafka


“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” – Martin Luther


“In order to write about life you need to experience it.” – C P Sennett