QUOTES ABOUT WRITING



 

Hello and welcome to my writing quote archive, the largest section of the Brainstorm Gallery. This file contains all the quotes dealing with writing directly. For the reasons of clarity I've divided them into following sections, so if you want to jump right ahead to the category that interest you, just click one of the titles below. I should also mention that all the quotes are not originally from writers or about writing. There are quotes from politicians, directors, actors and musicians as well as novelists, poets and journalists. However, the quotes themselves suited this section so well, it would have been a shame to leave them out. Also, if you know a witty writing quote that should be on this page, go ahead and send it to me.


 
 
WRITING IS HEAVEN
WRITING IS HELL
WRITING AS WORK
WRITING AND MONEY
WRITING AND THINKING
SOME WORDS OF ADVICE
ABOUT IDEAS
TRUTH AND FICTION
ABOUT CHARACTERS
CREATING DRAMA
EMOTIONS AND COMMUNICATION
THE READER
FEEDBACK
ABOUT TRYING
LEARNING AND EDITING
FAILING AND SUCCEEDING

 
 




WRITING IS HEAVEN
 

Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.
Thomas Berger

The number one thing I am earnestly attracted to is intelligence. Writers are thus the pinnacle of intelligence. While actors are great and awesome, writers literally create new worlds from scratch. What is sexier than that? Personally, I don't know why every person out there isn't dating a writer.
Rachel Bloom

One nice thing about putting the thing away for a couple of months before looking at it is that you start appreciate your own wit. Of course, this can be carried too far. But it's kind of cool when you crack up a piece of writing, and then realize you wrote it. I recommend this feeling.
Steven Brust

The novel is an event in consciousness. Our aim isn't to copy actuality, but to modify and recreate our sense of it. The novelist is inviting the reader to watch a performance in his own brain.
George Buchanan

Every word written is a victory against death.
Michel Butor

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly

For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I'm surprised where the journey takes me.
Jack Dann

Writing is a cop-out. An excuse to live perpetually in fantasy land, where you can create, direct and watch the products of your own head. Very selfish.
Monica Dickens

Writing counts.
Allyson Dickey

For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.
Catherine Drinker Bowen

Neither man nor God is going to tell me what to write.
James T. Farrell

The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

There are many reasons why novelists write – but they all have one thing in common: a need to create an alternative world.
John Fowles

Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.
Melinda Haynes

Writing wasn’t easy to start. After I finally did it, I realized it was the most direct contact possible with the part of myself I thought I had lost, and which I constantly find new things from. Writing also includes the possibility of living many lives as well as living in any time or world possible. I can satisfy my enthusiasm for research, but jump like a calf outside the strict boundaries of science. I can speak about things that are important to me and somebody listens. It’s wonderful!
Virpi Hämeen-Anttila

There is more pleasure to building castles in the air than on the ground.
Edward Gibbon

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. 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

No one is able to enjoy such feast than the one who throws a party in his own mind.
Selma Lagerlöf

We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little.
Anne Lamott

Are we, who want to create, in some way specially talented people? Or has everybody else simply given up, either by preassures of modesty or laziness, and closed their ears from their inner need to create, until that need has died, forgotten and abandoned? When you look at children, you start to think the latter. I still haven't met a child who doesn't love - or who at least hasn't loved - drawing, writing or some other creative activity.
Natalia Laurila

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted.
John Lennon

My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly.
John D. MacDonald

Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted.
Jules Renard

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can't help it.
Leo Rosten

Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.
Susan Sontag

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.
Gloria Steinem

Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – the words live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It is immortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.
J. Michael Straczynski

Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it.
Jesse Stuart

I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.
Brenda Ueland

I can’t help but to write, I have a inner need for it. If I’m not in the middle of some literary project, I’m utterly lost, unhappy and distressed. As soon as I get started, I calm down.
Kaari Utrio

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.
Emile Zola

Writing is only boring to the people who are boring themselves.
Anonymous

May I never grow to old to treasure 'once upon a time'.
Anonymous

 




WRITING IS HELL
 

I am a galley slave to pen and ink.
Honore de Balzac

What a writer wants to do is not what he does.
Jorge Luis Borges

If you're a freelance writer and aren't used to being ignored, neglected, and generally given short shrift, you must not have been in the business very long.
Poppy Z. Brite

Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to a writer - and if so, why?
Bennett Cerf

Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you – as if you haven't been told a million times already – that writing is harder.  Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching.
Harlan Ellison

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

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

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

Every stink that fights the ventilator thinks it is Don Quixote.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

The quality which makes man want to write and be read is essentially a desire for self-exposure and masochism. Like one of those guys who has a compulsion to take his thing out and show it on the street.
James Jones

It's tougher than Himalayan yak jerky on january. But, as any creative person will tell you, there are days when there's absolutely nothing sweeter than creating something from nothing.
Richard Krzemien

Writing is not a genteel profession. It's quite nasty and tough and kind of dirty.
Rosemary Mahoney

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

A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public eye with his pants down.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
George Orwell

A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it to be God.
Sidney Sheldon

People are certainly impressed by the aura of creative power which a writer may wear, but can easily demolish it with a few well-chosen questions. Bob Shaw has observed that the deadliest questions usually come as a pair: "Have you published anything?" – loosely translated as: I've never heard of you – and "What name do you write under?" – loosely translatable as: I've definitely never heard of you.
Brian Stableford

Writing is the flip side of sex – it's good only when it's over.
Hunter S. Thompson

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
Red Smith

Follow the path of your aroused thought, and you will soon meet this infernal inscription: There is nothing so beautiful as that which does not exist.
Paul Valery

Writing is so difficult that I feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter.
Jessamyn West

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

If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.
William Zinsser

Easy reading is damned hard writing.
Anonymous




WRITING AS WORK
 

If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster.
Isaac Asimov

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

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed.
Ray Bradbury

I don't think it is possible to give tips for finding one's voice; it's one of those things for which there aren't really any tricks or shortcuts, or even any advice that necessarily translates from writer to writer. All I can tell you is to write as much as possible.
Poppy Z. Brite

I get up in the morning, torture a typewriter until it screams, then stop.
Clarence Budington Kelland

The faster I write the better my output. If I'm going slow, I'm in trouble. It means I'm pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.
Raymond Chandler

I've always believed in writing without a collaborator, because when two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worries and only half the royalties.
Agatha Christie

Life is what happens to a writer between drafts.
Damon (aka Dennis R. Miller)
…who spent 25 years completing his novel The Perfect Song.

I believe that in a good collaboration, the authors bring their strengths to the story; one author's strength cancels the other author's weakness, and back and forth it goes.
Jack Dann

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

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

When my horse is running good, I don't stop to give him sugar.
William Faulkner

You can't say, I won't write today because that excuse will extend into several days, then several months, then… you are not a writer anymore, just someone who dreams about being a writer.
Dorothy C. Fontana

Writing is a crummy profession, but a good hobby.
Paavo Haavikko

Writing is physical work. It's sweaty work. You just can't will yourself to become a good writer. You really have to work at it.
Will Haygood

To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone – just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over....
John Hersey

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything.
John Irving

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.
Eugene Ionesco

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
Thomas Jefferson

When we read, we stat at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.
Vickie Karp

Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.
Stephen King

Writing is a fairly lonely business unless you invite people in to watch you do it, which is often distracting and then have to ask them to leave.
Marc Lawrence

It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.
Ursula K. LeGuin

Hardly anybody ever writes anything nice about introverts. Extroverts rule. This is rather odd when you realise that about nineteen writers out of twenty are introverts. We are been taught to be ashamed of not being 'outgoing'. But a writer's job is ingoing.
Ursula K. LeGuin

Writing makes no noise, except groans, and it can be done everywhere, and it is done alone.
Ursula K. LeGuin


You may be able to take a break from writing, but you won't be able to take a break from being a writer.

Stephen Leigh

At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.
H. P. Lovecraft

When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen.
Samuel Lover

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

The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write and keep on writing.
Ken MacLeod

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.
Somerset Maugham

The author must keep his mouth shut when his work starts to speak.
Friederich Nietzsche

Only ambitious nonentities and hearty mediocrities exhibit their rough drafts. It's like passing around samples of sputum.
Vladimir Nabokov

I write to tell stories. I believe that there a some professions in the world that will last forever: doctor or a nurse, teacher, builder and a storyteller. I write also to become myself, more so day by day. Writing is a way to shape out visible and invisible, in myself as well as in the world.
Eppu Nuotio

One hasn't become a writer until one has distilled writing into a habit, and that habit has been forced into an obsession. Writing has to be an obsession. It has to be something as organic, physiological and psychological as speaking or sleeping or eating.
Niyi Osundare

Through joy and through sorrow, I wrote. Through hunger and through thirst, I wrote. Through good report and through ill report, I wrote. Through sunshine and through moonshine, I wrote. What I wrote it is unnecessary to say.
Edgar A. Poe

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

Writing energy is like anything else. The more you put in, the more you get out.
Richard Reeves

The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.
George Bernard Shaw

The measure of artistic merit is the length to which a writer is willing to go in following his own compulsions.
John Updike

I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.
Peter de Vries

God sells us all things at the price of the labor.
Leonardo da Vinci

An artist's career always begins tomorrow
James Whistler

I never want to see anyone, and I never want to go anywhere or do anything. I just want to write.
P. G. Wodehouse

I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit.
P. G. Wodehouse
...after being asked about his writing technique

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

Either marry your work – take it seriously and do it every day – or date it – write only when you feel like it – but know which you are doing and the repercussions of both.
Anonymous

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.
Anonymous




WRITING AND MONEY
 

There's a sucker born every minute.
Phineas T. Barnum

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 got to thinking about the point in every freelancer's life where he has to decide whether he wants to A, have a social life, and do art in his spare time, or B, do art, and have a social life in his spare time. It has always seemed to me that if you have any hope of making a living as an artist – writer, musician, whatever – you absolutely must learn to tell people to leave you alone, and to mean it, and to eject them from your life if they don't respect that. This is necessary not because your job is more important than anyone else's – it isn't – but because a great many people will think of you as not having a job. 'Oh, how wonderful – you can work whenever you want to!' Well, yes, to a point, but generally 'whenever you want to' had better be most of the time, or else you won't have a roof over your head.
Poppy Z. Brite

The best things in life aren't things.
Art Buchwald

Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
Richard Curtis

Writing is turning one's worst moments into money.
J. P. Donleavy

Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent.
Neil Gaiman

There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either.
Robert Graves

Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.
L. Ron Hubbard

I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.
Cormac McCarthy

Writing is its own reward.
Henry Miller

Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.
Olin Miller

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

In the same way that a woman becomes a prostitute. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and finally I did it for money.
Ferenc Molnar
...after asked about how he became a writer

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
Jules Renard

Writing isn't generally a lucrative source of income; only a few, exceptional writers reach the income levels associated with the best-sellers. Rather, most of us write because we can make a modest living, or even supplement our day jobs, doing something about which we feel passionately. Even at the worst of times, when nothing goes right, when the prose is clumsy and the ideas feel stale, at least we're doing something that we genuinely love. There's no other reason to work this hard, except that love.
Melissa Scott

The only two kinds of books could earn an American writer a living are cookbooks and detective novels.
Rex Stout




WRITING AND THINKING
 

A word is a bud attempting to become a twig. How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream.
Gaston Bachelard

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.
Buddha

The pen is the tongue of the mind.
Miguel de Cervantes

I don't pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are  certainly worth thinking about.
Arthur C. Clarke

The spirit of creation is the spirit of contradiction. It is the breakthrough of appearances toward an unknown reality.
Joan Cocteau

It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them.
Isabel Colegate

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them.
Charles Caleb Colton

I don't have a moral plan. I'm a Canadian.
David Cronenberg

A writer doesn't solve problems. He allows them to emerge.
Friedrich Dürrenmatt

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

Consciousness will always be one degree above comprehensibility.
Gösta Carl Henrik Ehrensvärd

In my experience, the best creative work is never done when  one is unhappy.
Albert Einstein

Curiosity has its own reason for existence. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Albert Einstein

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T. S. Eliot

Writing, I explained, was mainly an attempt to out-argue one's past; to present events in such a light that battles lost in life were either won on paper or held to a draw.
Jules Feifer

How do I know what I think until I see what I say?
E. M. Forster

If you are pointing out one of the things a story is about, then you are very probably right; if you are pointing out the only thing a story is about you are very probably wrong - even if you're the author.
Neil Gaiman

If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The human mind is like umbrella. It functions best when open.
Max Gropius

Writers seldom write the things they think. They simply write the things they think other folks think they think.
Elbert Hubbard

Fiction writers, present company included, don't understand very much about what they do - not why it works when it's good, not why it doesn't when it's bad.
Stephen King

Authors who never give you something to disagree with never give you anything to think about.
Michael LaRocca

Stupidity is no excuse of not thinking.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

A man who is a genius and doesn't know it, probably isn't.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Genius is not a quality, but only a quantitative difference in a combination of attributes contained in all persons.
Dr. Ernst Jones

The only time I know that something is true is the moment I discover it in the act of writing.
Jean Malaquais

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.
Anais Nin

Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.
George Bernard Shaw

The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
Edwin Schlossberg

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Mark Twain

The brain that doesn't feed itself, eats itself.
Gore Vidal

Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.
Kurt Vonnegut

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
Oscar Wilde

One of the things that draws writers to writing is that they can get things right that they got wrong in real life by writing about them.
Tobias Wolff

Writing is thinking on paper.
William Zinsser




SOME WORDS OF ADVICE
 

Detail makes the difference between boring and terrific writing. It’s the difference between a pencil sketch and a lush oil painting. As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors.
Rhys Alexander

Writing is a lot easier if you have something to say
Sholem Asch

I take the view, and always have, that if you cannot say what you are going to say in twenty minutes you ought to go away and write a book about it.
Lord Brabazon

Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
Ray Bradbury

If you have other things in your life - family, friends, good productive day work - these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
David Brin

Young writers shouldn't be afraid of striving to emulate their favorites. It's a good way to learn, as long as you move on from it and don't publish too many of the results.
Poppy Z. Brite

If you find yourself imitating another writer, that doesn't have to be a bad thing, especially if you are a young or a new writer. However, you should be conscious of exactly how you are imitating him - word choice, sentence structure, motifs? - and think about why you're doing it.
Poppy Z. Brite

Don't explain why it works; explain how you use it.
Steven Brust

Be like a duck, my mother used to tell me. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath.
Michael Caine

In writing a series of stories about the same characters, plan the whole series in advance in some detail, to avoid contradictions and inconsistencies.
L. Sprague de Camp

It only takes one person to change your life – you.
Ruth Casey

There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it - and to get sensible men to read it.
Charles Caleb Cotton

When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.
Raymond Chandler

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.
G. K. Chesterton

Always make sure you are right and then - go for it.
David Crockett

Never throw up on an editor.
Ellen Datlow

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.
E.L. Doctorow

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Albert Einstein

If you start with a bang, you won't end with a whimper.
T. S. Eliot

Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ideal view for daily writing, hour for hour, is the blank brick wall of a cold-storage warehouse. Failing this, a stretch of sky will do, cloudless if possible.
Edna Ferber

Expansion, that is the idea the novelist must cling to, not completion, not rounding off, but opening out.
E. M. Forster

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.
Benjamin Franklin

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

You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree look like. Tell them what makes this one different.
Neil Gaiman

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
Neil Gaiman

Writing a novel is like heading out over the open sea in a small boat. It helps, if you have a plan and a course laid out.
John Gardner

You must learn to overcome your very natural and appropriate revulsion for your own work.
William Gibson

If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.
Natalie Goldberg

Put weather in.
Joseph Hansen

My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that's nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.
Helen Hayes

They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talk about writing or themselves.
Lillian Hellman

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector.
Ernst Hemingway

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.
Ernest Hemingway

You have to have a lot of patience to learn patience.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

In order for you to be yourself, you have to be somebody first.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

The exit is usually where the entrance was.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

The two most engaging powers of an author are, to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.
Samuel Johnson

Before you use a fancy word, make room for it.
Joseph Joubert

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.
Helen Keller

There will never be another now -
I'll make the most of today.
There will never be another me -
I'll make the most of myself.
Helen Keller

Don't take life so serious. It ain't no-hows permanent.
Walt Kelly

It's hard for me to believe that people who read very little - or not at all in some cases - should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time - or the tools - to write. Simple as that.
Stephen King

One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.
Stephen King

If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.
Stephen King

My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.
Elmore Leonard

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'. Otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
C. S. Lewis

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

If you think you're boring your audience, go slower not faster
Gustav Mahler

For anyone who is: just keep writing. Keep reading. If you are meant to be a writer, a storyteller, it’ll work itself out. You just keep feeding it your energy, and giving it that crucial chance to work itself out. By reading and writing.
Robin McKinley

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

For all my longer works, for example novels, I write chapter outlines so I can have the pleasure of departing from them later on.
Garth Nix

One has to live a life that creates a writer.
Erno Paasilinna

We writers have this saying 'Kill your darlings'... but I suppose you family men don't agree with it.
Mike Pohjola

Make it new.
Ezra Pound

You only pass through this life once, you don't come back for an encore.
Elvis Presley

Most beginning writers - and I was the same - are like chefs trying to cook great dishes that they've never tasted themselves. How can you make a great - or even an adequate - bouillabaisse if you've never had any? If you don't really understand why people read mysteries - or romances or literary novels or thrillers or whatever - then there's no way in the world you're going to write one that anyone wants to publish. This is the meaning of the well-known expression "Write what you know."
Daniel Quinn

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Theodore Roosevelt

Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.
John Ruskin

Resist the temptation to try to use dazzling style to conceal weakness of substance.
Stanley Schmidt

To grow in craft is to increase the bredth of what I can do, but art is the depth, the passion, the desire, the courage to be myself and myself alone.
Pat Schneider

If you don't know it, don't write it.
Darrell Schweitzer

Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.
William Shakespeare

There are no rules in writing. There are useful principles. Throw them away when they're not useful. But always know what you're throwing away.
Will Shetterly

Moving around is good for creativity: the next line of dialogue that you desperately need may well be waiting in the back of the refrigerator or half a mile along your favorite walk.
Will Shetterly

Stories have a beginning, a midlle and an end. But not necessarily in that order.
Robert Silverberg

The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book.
Mickey Spillane

When in doubt, blow something up.
J. Michael Straczynski

You are what you read.
Esko Valtaoja

If you really want to hurt your parents and you don't have nerve enough to be homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts.
Kurt Vonnegut

Books are never finished, They are merely abandoned.
Oscar Wilde

If you think that something small cannot make a difference, try going to sleep with a mosquito in the room.
Anonymous




ABOUT IDEAS
 

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.
Howard Aiken

Fitzgerald never got rid of anything; the ghosts of his adolescence, the failures of his youth, the doubts of his maturity plagued him to the end. He was supremely a part of the world he described, so much a part that he made himself its king and then, when he saw it begin to crumble, he crumbled with it and led it to death.
John Aldridge

Invent your own mythology or be slave to another man’s.
William Blake

Everything that doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. And later on you can use it in some story.
Tapani Bagge

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

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

If you haven't got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you'll only have to throw away the first three pages.
William Campbell Gault

When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing knowledge.
Albert Einstein

The mind can proceed only so far upon what it knows and can prove. There comes a point where the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap.
Albert Einstein

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
Albert Einstein

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.
T. S. Eliot

All good ideas arrive by chance.
Max Ernst

The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one... If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on  a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.
William Faulkner

There is no idea so brilliant or original that a sufficiently-untalented writer can't screw it up.
Raymond Feist

Observe, don't imitate.
John M. Ford

The ideas aren't that important. Really they aren't. Everyone's got an idea for a book, a movie, a story, a TV series.
Neil Gaiman

You need more than a beginning if you're going to start a book. If all you have is a beginning, then once you've written that beginning, you have nowhere to go.
Neil Gaiman

The writer's genetic inheritance and her or his experiences shape the writer into a unique individual, and it is this uniqueness that is the writer's only stuff for sale.
James Gunn

Nighttime is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.
Catherine O'Hara

To write fiction, one needs a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
Aldous Huxley

I'm not sure I would have ever started to draw, let alone write, if my childhood hadn't been so happy. It was a mixture of comfort and adventure. An excellent mixture!
Tove Jansson

Every bush can burn if you fire it with your imagination.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

And if I have to be a thieving, immoral crow in order to write a book, then by God, I'll grow black feathers on my fanny and croak as loud as I can.
Pasi Jääskeläinen

I hated school. I don't trust anybody who looks back on the years from 14 to 18 with any enjoyment. If you liked being a teenager, there's something really wrong with you.
Stephen King

I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk
Stephen King

It is crazy even to ask what creativity is. It would be just as useful to interview a caraway plant in your garden and ask: “How did you decided to be a spice?“
Eeva Kilpi

If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.
Louis L’Amour

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
Jack London

The task of a writer consists in being able to make something out of an idea.
Thomas Mann

The first step to becoming a better writer is believing your own experience is worth writing about.
Peter Marmorek

There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers.
H.L. Mencken

When you take stuff from one writer, it's plagiarism. But when you take it from many writers, it's research.
William Mizner

The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; a man may live long yet live very little.
Michel de Montaigne

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.
Linus Pauling

I don't know where my ideas come from, but I know where they come to. They come to my desk, and if I'm not there, they go away again.
Philip Pullman

Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.
George Bernard Shaw

What's hard, in hacking as in fiction, is not writing, it's deciding what to write.
Neal Stephenson

Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know."
Wislawa Szymborska

No tale is so good... but can be spoilt in the telling.
Terence, 160 BC

How vain it is to sit down to write if you have not stood up to live.
Henry David Thoreau

It's a dangerous business going out your front door. You step on to the road, and if you don't keep your feet there's no knowing where the road will take you.
Bilbo Baggins

Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?
Kurt Vonnegut

There is no idea so stupid or hackneyed that a sufficiently-talented writer can't get a good story out of it.
Lawrence Watt-Evans

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an  idea at all.
Oscar Wilde

We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which coms always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.
Woodrow Wilson




TRUTH AND FICTION
 

Writing makes a map, and there is something about a journey that begs to have its passage marked.
Christina Baldwin

When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.
Otto von Bismarck

My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.
Anton Chekhov

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.
Tom Clancy

Words, as is well known, are the great foes of reality.
Joseph Conrad

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
Philip K. Dick

Rule one of reading other people's stories is that whenever you say 'well that's not convincing' the author tells you that's the bit that wasn't made up. This is because real life is under no obligation to be convincing.
Neil Gaiman

Story is to human beings what the pearl is to the oyster.
Joseph Gold

Our lives with all their miracles and wonders are merely a discontinuous string of incidents – until we create the narrative that gives them meaning
Arlene Goldbard

Why would anybody lie? The truth is always more colourful.
Jerry Hall

Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.
Stephen King

Use your imagination. Trust me, your lives are not interesting. Don't write them down.
W. B. Kinsella

Stories open up new paths, sometimes send us back to old ones, and close off still others. Telling and listening to stories we too imaginatively walk down those paths – paths of longing, paths of hope, paths of desperation.
Arthur Kleinman

Fiction is about stuff that's screwed up.
Nancy Kress

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.
John Lennon

Do not consider it proof just because it is written in books, for a liar who will deceive with his tongue will not hesitate to do the same with his pen.
Maimonides

I once asked Barbara Stanwyck the secret of acting. She said: 'Just be truthful – and if you can fake that, you've got it made'.
Fred McMurray

Thus, in a real sense, I am constantly writing autobiography, but I have to turn it into fiction in order to give it credibility.
Katherine Paterson

No tale tells all.
Alexei Panshin

Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't goin' away.
Elvis Presley

Truth maybe stranger than fiction, but fiction is truer.
Frederic Raphael

I write fiction because it's a way of making statements I can disown.
Tom Stoppard

Fiction writing is great. You can make up almost anything.
Ivana Trump
...upon finishing her first novel

Get you facts first, and then you can distort 'em as much as you please.
Mark Twain

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




ABOUT CHARACTERS
 

First, find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him.
Ray Bradbury

Sex almost always disappoints me in novels. Everything can be said or done now, and that's what I often find: everything, a feeling of generality or dispersal. But in my experience, true sex is so particular, so peculiar to the person who yearns for it. Only he or she, and no one else, would desire so very much that very person under those circumstances. In fiction, I miss that sense of terrific specificity.
Anatole Broyard

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
G. K. Chesterton

It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.
William Faulkner

In nearly all good fiction, the basic - all but inescapable - plot form is this: A central character wants something, goes after it despite opposition, perhaps including his own doubts, and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.
John Gardner

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

The best way to send information is to wrap it up in a person.
Robert Oppenheimer

Why wouldn't you write to escape yourself as much as you might write to express yourself. It's far more interesting to write about others.
Susan Sontag

The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.
Mark Twain

I never started from ideas but always from character.
Ivan Turgenev

Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head and as you get older, you become more skillful casting them.
Gore Vidal

Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect it is when you can write more entirely out of yourself, inside the skin, heart, mind, and soul of a person who is not yourself, that a character becomes in his own right another human being on the page.
Eudora Welty

Writing fiction is a solitary occupation but not really a lonely one. The writer's head is mobbed with characters, images and language.
Hilma Wolitzer

Characterization is an accident that flows out of action and dialogue.
Jack Woodford




CREATING DRAMA
 

Love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective's struggle to solve a problem.
Raymond Chandler

Tension is wonderful for making people laugh.
John Cleese

All romances end in tragedy. One of the key people in a romance becomes a monster sooner or later.
David Cronenberg

Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader's desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That's called suspense. It can bring desire to a frenzy, in which case you are in a good position to bring off a wonderful climax.
Colin Greenland

Plotting isn't like sex, because you can go back and adjust it afterwards. Whether you plan your story beforehand or not, if the climax turns out to be the revelation that the mad professor's anti-gravity device actually works, you must go back and silently delete all those flying cars buzzing around the city on page one. If you want to reveal something, you need to hide it properly first.
Colin Greenland

The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict.
James Frey

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.
Alfred Hitchcock

The essence of drama is that man cannot walk away from the consequences of his own deeds.
Harold Hayes

In a good play, everyone is in the right.
Fredrich Hebbel

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.
Helen Keller

The story is not in the plot but in the telling.
Ursula K. LeGuin

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

We exponents of horror do much better than those Method actors. We make the unbelievable believable. More often than not, they make the believable unbelievable.
Vincent Price

Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it's about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.
Mordecai Richler

Don't mistake a good setup for a satisfying conclusion -- many beginning writers end their stories when the real story is just ready to begin.
Stanley Schmidt

When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that exalted, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.
George Bernard Shaw

I write plays because dialogue is the most respectable way of contradicting myself.
Tom Stoppard

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
Kurt Vonnegut

There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.
Kurt Vonnegut

Endless conflicts. Endless misunderstanding. All life is that. Great and little cannot understand one another.
H.G. Wells

A story isn't about a moment in time, a story is about the moment in time.
W. D. Wetherell

I could speculate, but it would be just speculation and the kind of thing that you would get in with a science fiction story. And if I was doing a science fiction story then I would come up with what can go wrong with this system.
Gene Wolfe
...commenting about the future of book publishing technology




EMOTIONS AND COMMUNICATION
 

If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.
Kingsley Amis

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs, jolted by every pebble in the road.
Henry Ward Beecher

It is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Napoleon Bonaparte

Literature is all, or mostly, about sex.
Anthony Burgess

In good writing, words become one with things.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Find the key emotion; this may be all you need know to find your short story.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
Robert Frost

The writer who cares more about words than about story – characters, action, setting, atmosphere – is unlikely to create a vivid and continuous dream; he gets in his own way too much; in his poetic drunkenness, he can't tell the cart – and its cargo – from the horse.
John Gardner

We read five words on the first page of a really good novel and we begin to forget that we are reading printed words on a page; we begin to see images.
John Gardner

It's better to write about things you feel than about things you know about.
L P. Hartley

Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.
Alfred Hitchcock

Stories are living and dynamic. Stories exist to be exchanged. They are the currency of Human Growth.
Jean Houston

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.
Z.N. Hurston

The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.
Carl Gustav Jung

If you would write emotionally, be first unemotional. If you would move your readers to tears, do not let them see you cry.
James J. Kilpatrick

We are storied folk. Stories are what we are; telling and listening to stories is what we do.
Arthur Kleinman

Sure, it's simple, writing for kids… Just as simple as bringing them up.
Ursula K. LeGuin

I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk through the rain.
Audre Lorde

Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words?
Marcell Marceau

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

If you do not have an alert and curious interest in character and dramatic situation, if you have no visual imagination and are unable to distinguish between honest emotional reactions and sentimental approaches to life, you will never write a competent short story.
Edward J. O'Brien

I write to become understood. After I had published my first novel many people started ethusiaticly commenting it. I had tried to talk about the same things in normal conversation, but my message hadn’t gone through. Now I found a channel for it.
Raija Oranen

Writing is communication, not self-expression. Nobody in this world wants to read your diary except your mother.
Richard Peck

Short stories can be rather stark and bare unless you put in the right details. Details make stories human, and the more human a story can be, the better.
V. S. Pritchett

Everything changes when you change.
Jim Rohn

In a thousand words I can have the Lord's Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, the Hippocratic Oath, a sonnet by Shakespeare, the Preamble to the Constitution, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and almost all of the Boy Scout Oath. Now exactly what picture were you planning to trade for all that?
Roy H. Williams

If the sex scene doesn't make you want to do it - whatever it is they're doing - it hasn't been written right.
Sloan Wilson

Sharing our stories can also be a means of healing. Grief and loss may isolate us, and anger may alienate us. Shared with others, these emotions can be powerfully uniting, as we see that we are not alone, and realize that others weep with us.
Susan Wittig Albert

Storytelling is healing. As we reveal ourselves in story, we become aware of the continuing core of our lives under the fragmented surface of our experience. We become aware of the multifaceted, multichaptered ' I ' who is the storyteller. We can trace out the paradoxical and even contradictory versions of ourselves that we create for different occasions, different audiences... Most important, as we become aware of ourselves as storytellers, we realize that what we understand and imagine about ourselves is a story. And when we know all this, we can use our stories to heal and make ourselves whole.
Susan Wittig Albert

Writing for adults, you have to keep reminding them of what is going on. The poor things have given up using their brains when they read. Children you only need to tell things to once.
Diana Wynne Jones

Sometimes I think it is a great mistake to have matter that can think and feel. It complains so. By the same token, though, I suppose that boulders and mountains and moons could be accused of being a little too phlegmatic.
Kurt Vonnegut




THE READER
 

I think the first duty of all art, including fiction of any kind, is to entertain. That is to say, to hold interest. No matter how worthy the message of something, if it's dull, you're just not communicating.
Poul Anderson

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret.
Matthew Arnold

The only test of work of literature is that it shall please other ages than its own.
Gerald Brenan

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

Those who write clearly have readers. Those who write obscurely have commentators.
Albert Camus

The virtue of books is to be readable.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tediousness is the most fatal of all faults.
Samuel Johnson

I keep six honest serving men
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and When
and How and Where and Who.
Rudyard Kipling

Your stuff starts out being just for you… but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right - as right as you can, anyway - it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.
Stephen King

Many modern novels have a beginning, a muddle and an end.
Philip Larkin

Readers, after all, are making the world with you. You give them the materials, but it's the readers who build that world in their own minds.
Ursula Le Guin

I want story, wit, music, wryness, color, and a sense of reality in what I read, and I try to get it in what I write.
John D. MacDonald

Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you. Listen to yourself. If you are excited by what you are writing, you have a much better chance of putting that excitement over to a reader.
Robin McKinley

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

There are some people who read too much: The bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as others are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing.
H. L. Mencken

Anything you have to acquire a taste for was not meant to be eaten.
Eddie Murphy

The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He's entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you're in violation.
Larry Niven

It is a cardinal sin to bore the reader.
Larry Niven

Be anything you want to be, but don't be dull.
Frank Robinson

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.
David Sedaris

Usually, when people get to the end of a chapter, they close the book and go to sleep. I deliberately write my books so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, he or she must turn one more page. When people tell me I've kept them up all night, I feel like I've succeeded!
Sidney Sheldon

Editors also know that the people who are really readers want to read. They hunger to read. They will forgive a vast number of clumsinesses and scamped work of every sort if the author will delight them just enough to keep them able to continue.
William Sloane

The main question to a novel is - did it amuse? Were you surprised at dinner coming so soon? Did you mistake eleven for ten? Were you too late to dress? And did you sit up beyond the usual hour? If a novel produces these effects, it is good; if it does not – story, language, love, scandal itself cannot save it. It is only meant to please; and it must do that or it does nothing.
Sydney Smith

If you try to please audiences, uncritically accepting their tastes, it can only mean that you have no respect for them: that you simply want to collect their money.
Andrei Tarkovsky

I get a lot of people complaining about my ambiguity, often in cases which there is nothing ambigous at all. As far as I can see, people read it when they were half stoned and listening to the TV. Then they come back and say gee, it's impossible to figure out what's going on in a story.
Gene Wolfe




FEEDBACK
 

There is probably no hell for authors in the next world - they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this.
C. N. Bovee

There is no mistaking the dismay on the face of a writer who has just heard that his brain child is a deformed idiot.
L. Sprague de Camp

No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self-deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Listening to critics is like letting Muhammad Ali decide which astronaut goes to the moon.
Robert Duvall

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
Albert Einstein

Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them. Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself.
Harlan Ellison

Don't be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.
Gene Fowler

An editor should have a pimp for a brother so he'd have someone to look up to.
Gene Fowler

Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what's wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
Neil Gaiman

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book - I'll waste no time reading it.
Moses Hadas

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamp-post what he thinks about dogs.
Christopher Hampton

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.
Joseph Heller

What a blessed thing it is that nature, when she invented, manufactured and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left!
Oliver Wendell Holmes

The only time to believe any kind of rating is when it shows you at the top.
Bob Hope

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
Elbert Hubbard

Mediocrity is more dangerous in a critic than in a writer.
Eugene Ionesco

Abuse is often service. There is nothing so dangerous to an author as silence.
Samuel Johnson

It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.
Samuel Johnson

Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
Samuel Johnson

Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.
Franklin Jones

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'to the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'Not at this address'. Just keep looking for the right address.
Barbara Kingsolver

Put tenderness into your words when you speak,
for then they will fall like seeds in the warm ground.
Do not use harsh words, for they shatter.
Only rocks can take hammering.
Anni Korpela

A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
Ring Lardner

What you said hurt me very much. I cried all the way to the bank.
Liberace
...after cruel criticism

Nature fits all her children with something to do. He who would write and can't write, can surely review.
James Russell Lowell

Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.
Russel Lynes

Awards are like hemorrhoids. Sooner or later every asshole gets one.
François Ozon
...from the script of "Swimming Pool"

This is not a book that should be tossed lightly aside. It should be hurled with great force.
Dorothy Parker

Critic is a legless man who teaces other people to run
Channing Pollock

Editors drive us nuts. We go from near-worshipful groveling when we submit to bitter cursing when they reject us.
Ken Rand

Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to those who have none.
Jules Renard

I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it shall be behind me.
Max Reger
...in a letter to critic Rudolph Louis

I wish I could be like Shaw who once read a bad review of one of his plays, called the critic and said: 'I have your review in front of me and soon it will be behind me'.
Barbara Streisand

The road to ignorance is paved with good editors.
George Bernard Shaw

Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic.
Jean Sibelius

A writer judging his own work is like deceived husband – he is frequently the last person to appreciate the true state of affairs.
Robert Traver

A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
Kenneth Tynan

I've nothing against anyone following their dreams - but not if they're crap.
Robbie Williams
...commenting on the crap of 'Popstars'

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.
Kurt Vonnegut

The novelist must be his own most harsh critic and also his own most loving admirer and about both he must say nothing.
Angus Wilson




ABOUT TRYING
 

The act of writing is an act of optimism. You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn't matter.
Edward Albee

I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die.
Isaac Asimov

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist.
Isaac Asimov

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other comes from a strong won't.
Henry Ward Beecher

Ability is nothing without opportunity.
Napoleon Bonaparte

You can't try to do things; you simply must do them.
Ray Bradbury

Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.
Les Brown

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

The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home.
John W. Campbell

He who stops being better stops being good.
Oliver Cromwell

It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Elliot

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
Henry Ford

Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.
Benjamin Franklin

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Quitters don't win and winners don't quit.
Elliot Gould

Those who tell you it's tough at the top have never been at the bottom.
Joe Harvey

He who limps is still walking.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Artistic honesty sometimes prevents an artist from being born.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Some people drop their wings in order to grow a hump
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Beyond each corner, new directions lie in wait.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Each juggler should be trained in the ignorance of the laws of physics.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

A sweet thing, perspective - a chance to see your enemies so small.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged... I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.
Erica Jong

Never let inexperience get in the way of ambition.
Terry Josephson

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

When one door of happiness closes another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
Helen Keller

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

Opportunity never knocks on an open door – it simply walks right in.
Melina Martin

No one is asking, let alone demanding, that you write. The world is not waiting with bated breath for your article or book. Whether or not you get a single word on paper, the sun will rise, the earth will spin, the universe will expand. Writing is forever and always a choice - your choice.
Beth Mende Conny

He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears.
Michel de Montaigne

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.
Michel de Montaigne

You are a bundle of mysteries. Finding and conquering yourself is a lifetime task. There are unplumbed depths in you full of the rich ore of personal discovery. Explore yourself! There is power in you - the power to change yourself and to change the world; the power to create plans, projects, movements for the common good; the power to inspire and serve.
Wilfred Peterson

Perhaps it would be better not to be a writer, but if you must, then write. If all feels hopeless, if that famous 'inspiration' will not come, write. If you are a genius, you'll make your own rules, but if not - and the odds are against it - go to your desk no matter what your mood, face the icy challenge of the paper - write.
J. B. Priestly

Once we choose hope, everything is possible.
Christopher Reeve

The future belongs to those who believe in their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt

Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.
Marilyn vos Savant

There are lots of people who give their all and have that inner glow on. It's a shame that majority of them are under seven years old.
Esa Saarinen

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
Seneca
(3 BC - 65 AD)

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
George Bernard Shaw

A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage.
Sidney Smith

It is better to arouse envy than pity.
Pubilius Syrus

If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.
David Viscott

We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
Kurt Vonnegut

I dunno, when I started writing really I was like, filling out applications and stuff real early. Last name first, first name last, sex… occasionally, stuff like that. Then I was writing letters, filling out forms, writing on bathroom walls...
Tom Waits
...rambling about getting started as a writer

I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all.
E. B. White

If you wait for inspiration, you're not a writer, but a waiter.
Anonymous

Don't let a single day go by without writing. Even if it's garbage, if garbage is all you can write, write it. Garbage eventually becomes compost with a little treatment.
Anonymous




LEARNING AND EDITING
 

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
Scott Adams

All writing is a process of elimination.
Martha Albrand

It doesn't matter if a student looks as sour as a lemon. You get lemonade by squeezing them.
Antti Allén

There is no great writing, only great rewriting.
Justice Brandeis

Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination.
Louise Brooks

Short stories are designed to deliver their impact in as few pages as possible. A tremendous amount is left out, and a good short story writer learns to include only the most essential information.
Orson Scott Card

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.
Truman Capote

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

I refuse to write the same story twice. I keep experimenting. I keep learning how to work. I’ve been at it pretty much 50 years, and I’m now beginning to learn how to do the job well.
Harlan Ellison

Half of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at.
David Gerrold

The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Short stories are designed to deliver their impact in as few pages as possible. A tremendous amount is left out, and a good short story writer learns to include only the most essential information.
Orson Scott Card

Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it...
Michael Crichton

In brief, I spend half my time trying to learn the secrets of other writers - to apply them to the expression of my own thoughts.
Shirley Ann Grau

It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
Ernest Hemingway

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Ernest Hemingway

Don't fear making a mistake; fear failing to learn and move forward.
Pilip Humbert

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
Thomas Jefferson

Try any goddam thing you like, no matter how boringly normal or outrageous. If it works, fine. If it doesn't, toss it. Toss it even if you love it.
Stephen King

As with all other aspects of the narrative art, you will improve with practice, but practice will never make you perfect. Why should it? What fun would that be?
Stephen King

Just because you're perfectionist doesn't mean you're perfect.
Jack Nicholson
...describing Stanley Kubrick

The moment of recognizing your own lack of talent is a flash of genius.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

You sit down and you do it, and you do it, and you do it, until you have learned to do it.
Ursula K. LeGuin
...on writing

As a writer I'm merely a journalist who has learned to write better than others.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters.
James A. Michener

I have written - often several times - every word I have ever published.
Vladimir Nabokov

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

Only self-educated is educated. Others are merely taught.
Erno Paasilinna

I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
Blaise Pascal

Everything that is written merely to please the author is worthless.
Blaise Pascal

One extends one's limits only by exceeding them.
M. Scott Peck

Full purse makes no noise.
Juhani Peltonen

Write quickly and you will never write well. Write well, and you will soon write quickly.
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, 65 A.D.

It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.
Will Shetterly

The wastepaper basket is the writer's best friend.
Isaac Bashevis Singer

By writing much, one learns to write well.
Robert Southey

A short story can be held in the mind all in one piece. It's less like a building than a fiendish device. Every bit of it must be cunningly made and crafted to fit together perfectly and without waste so it can perform its task with absolute precision. That purpose might be to move the reader to tears or wonder, to awaken the conscience, to console, to
gladden, or to enlighten. But each short story has one chief purpose, and every sentence, phrase, and word is crafted to achieve that end. The ideal short story is like a knife - strongly made, well balanced, and with an absolute minimum of moving parts.
Michael Swanwick

The only way to learn to write is to write.
Peggy Teeters

I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.
Leonardo da Vinci
...as his last words

You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you're writing.
Gene Wolfe

It is my contention that a really great novel is made with a knife and not a pen. A novelist must have the intestinal fortitude to cut out even the most brilliant passage so long as it doesn't advance the story.
Frank Yerby

A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
Marguerite Yourcenar

Inside every fat book is a thin book trying to get out.
Unknown




FAILING AND SUCCEEDING
 

If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.
Woody Allen

Eighty percent of success is showing up.
Woody Allen

It is defeat that turns bone to flint; it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle; it is defeat that makes men invincible. Do not then be afraid of defeat. You are never so near to victory as when defeated in a good cause.
Henry Ward Beecher

A writer should have another lifetime to see if he's appreciated.
Jorge Luis Borges

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

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the yard and shot it.
Truman Capote

Writing a book is a adventure. To begin with it is a toy and amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him out to the public.
Winston Churchill

There is a special sadness in achievement, in the knowledge that a long-desired goal has been attained at last, and that life must now be shaped toward new ends.
Arthur C. Clarke

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
Confucius

I'm very proud of my flops, as much as of my successes.
Francis Ford Coppola

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
Bill Cosby

What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.
Bob Dylan

Try not to become a man of success, but rather a man of value.
Albert Einstein

Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.
T. S. Eliot

Failures are inevitable. Unfortunately, in film they live for ever and they're 40 ft wide and 20 ft high.
Harrison Ford

If you don't allow yourself the possibility of writing something very, very bad, it would be hard to write something very good.
Steven Galloway

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made.
Jean Giraudoux

God knows I've done enough crap in my life to grow a few flowers.
Dustin Hoffman

There's no secret about success. Did you ever know a successful man who didn't tell you about it?
Kin Hubbard

To achieve great things requires that we become great people.
Philip Humbert

It isn't easy to live after death. It takes a lifetime.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

The first condition of immortality is death.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Nothing changes your opinion of a friend so surely as success - yours or his.
Franklin P. Jones

One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.
Helen Keller

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.
Reggie Leach

The only one who doesn't make mistakes is the one who doesn't do anything.
V. I. Lenin

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than it be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
Jack London

I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.
Steve Martin
...star and co-writer of "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid"

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

You shouldn't change what you are in the search for success.
Sissy Spacek
...about not changing her name when she became an actress

The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of its behind.
Joseph Stilwell

Measure your minds height by the shadow it casts.
Rex Stout

You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday.
Jonathan Swift

I can't give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.
Herbert Bayard Swope

Failure? I never encountered it. All I ever met were temporary setbacks.
Dottie Walters

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.
Oscar Wilde

Success comes to a writer, as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed.
P. G. Wodehouse


 
 
 
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