Write what should not be forgotten. Isabel Allende


All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. Ernest Hemingway


Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. David Foster Wallace


We write to taste life in the moment and in retrospect. Anais Nin


Writing is its own reward. Henry Miller


A writer is a world trapped in a person. Victor Hugo


Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. William Wordsworth


Without great solitude no serious work is possible. Pablo Picasso


Good things, when short, are twice as good. Baltasar Gracián


The first draft of everything is shit. Ernest Hemingway


There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed. Ernest Hemingway


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


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Write while the heat is in you… The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. Henry David Thoreau


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 had so many ideas. Jammed up. It was like they just needed permission to come out. Stephen King


You go where the story leads you. Stephen King


You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write. Saul Bellow


All bad writers are in love with the epic. Ernest Hemingway


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


If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. Blaise Pascal


I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on until I am. Jane Austen


A writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life. E.B. White


Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. Louis L’Amour


Write with conviction. Pick a side and be bold. And if you’re wrong, admit it. Jeff Goins


Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself. Truman Capote


The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense. Tom Clancy


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


One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple. Jack Kerouac


It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it. Jack Kerouac


Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading. Eudora Welty


I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go. F. Scott Fitzgerald


Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it. Oscar Wilde


There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story. Frank Herbert


You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. Ray Bradbury


No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. Robin Williams



The road to hell is paved with adverbs. Stephen King


A short saying often contains much wisdom. Sophocles


Writing for me is a kind of compulsion, so I don’t think anyone could have made me do it, or prevented me from doing it. J.K. Rowling


Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Margaret Atwood


Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. Virginia Woolf


You can write nothing of value unless you give yourself wholly to the the theme – and when you so give yourself – you lose appetite ans sleep – it cannot be helped. Charlotte Brontë


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


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


The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life. Zadie Smith


There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou


History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. Winston Churchill


People should be interested in books, not their authors. Agatha Christie


The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes. Andre Gide


A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends. Friedrich Nietzsche


The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. Albert Camus


Writing is the painting of the voice. Voltaire


If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it. Toni Morrison


Write drunk, edit sober. Ernest Hemingway



A word after a word after a word is power. Margaret Atwood


If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. Margaret Atwood


Writers live twice. Natalie Goldberg


I allow my intuition to lead my path. Manuel Puig


Be obscure clearly. E.B. White


A story should entertain the writer, too. Stephen King


The adverb is not your friend. Stephen King


There is no perfect time to write. There’s only now. Barbara Kingsolver


Tears are words that need to be written. Paulo Coelho


Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. Henry Miller


Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity. G.K. Chesterton


You must kill all your darlings. William Faulkner


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


Writers live twice. Natalie Goldberg


To survive, you must tell stories. Umberto Eco


If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Elmore Leonard



You can make anything by writing. C.S. Lewis


Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve. J.K. Rowling


A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. Richard Bach


The answer to all writing, to any career for that matter, is love. Ray Bradbury


Shoot for the top, always. You know you’ll never make it, but what’s the fun if you don’t shoot for the top? Ursula K. Le Guin


Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little. Holly Gerth


You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. Octavia E. Butler


To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing. Pablo Picasso


I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work. Pearl S. Buck


Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. Franz Kafka


Long patience and application saturated with your heart’s blood — you will either write or you will not — and the only way to find out whether you will or not is to try. Jim Tully


Be strategic and resilient in the pursuit of your dreams. That sounds like a cheesy quote, right? But nah, I’m serious. Resilience is one hell of a quality to master and not many have the skin for it. Tiffany D. Jackson


The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. Neil Gaiman


The writer must have a good imagination to being with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising. Stephen King


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


Once I start work on a project, I don’t stop, and I don’t slow down unless I absolutely have to. Stephen King


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


I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it. Chinua Achebe


The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It’s not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work. Augusten Burroughs


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


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


You wanna fly, you got to give up the sh*t that weighs you down. Toni Morrison



The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. Gilbert K. Chesterton


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


The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience. Arthur Schopenhauer


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


Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke. F. Scott Fitzgerald


Women want love to be a novel. Men, a short story. Daphne du Maurier


The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. Robert Benchley


Writing is the art of repeating oneself without anyone noticing. Nassim Nicholas Taleb


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


If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered anyway. Stephen King


No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft. H. G. Wells


When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time. Lady Gaga


If you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it. If you’re doing it because you want women in your bed, don’t do it. Charles Bukowski


Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college. Kurt Vonnegut


I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind. Patrick Dennis


Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk — away from any open flames — to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty. George Singleton


It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. Robert Benchley


Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. Margaret Chittenden


You just have to go on when it is worst and most helpless – there is only one thing to do with a novel and that is go straight on through to the end of the damn thing. Ernest Hemingway


I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now. Louisa May Alcott


Writing is often the process by which you realize that you do not understand what you are talking about. Shane Parrish


If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster. Isaac Isimov


Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money. Virginia Woolf



Fiction is the truth inside the lie. Stephen King


I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it. William Carlos Williams


The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, travelling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone. Donna Tartt


Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who wanna tell you a story but don’t wanna make eye contact while telling it. John Green


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


Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood. Leslie Gordon Barnard


Whether we are describing a king, an assassin, a thief, an honest man, a prostitute, a nun, a young girl, or a stallholder in a market, it is always ourselves that we are describing. Guy De Maupassant


Of your unspoken words, you are the master; of your spoken words, the servant; of your written words, the slave. Quaker proverb


I almost always urge people to write in the first person. Writing is an act of ego and you might as well admit it. William Zinsser


Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others. Virginia Woolf


The story must strike a nerve — in me. My heart should start pounding when I hear the first line in my head. I start trembling at the risk. Susan Sontag


I don’t think of literature as an end in itself. It’s just a way of communicating something. Isabel Allende


No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published. Russell Lynes


A wounded deer leaps the highest. Emily Dickinson


Unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don’t do it. Charles Bukowski


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


I would always be that same maddening, monstrous mixture of pedantry, egoism, politeness, selfishness, kindliness, sneakiness, larkiness, sociability, loneliness, ambition, ordered calm and hidden intensity. I would cover my life with words. I would spray the whole bloody world with words. Stephen Fry


I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book. Roald Dahl


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


Everywhere I go, I’m asked if the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. Flannery O’Connor


Geniuses can be scintillating and geniuses can be somber, but it’s that inescapable sorrowful depth that shines through — originality. Jack Kerouac


Whether a character in your novel is full of choler, bile, phlegm, blood or plain old buffalo chips, the fire of life is in there, too, as long as that character lives. James Alexander Thom


Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it – don’t cheat with it. Ernest Hemingway


A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it. Roald Dahl


If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood. Peter Handke


If you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter. Dan Poynter



Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Stephen King


As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand. Ernest Hemingway


I try to leave out the parts that people skip. Elmore Leonard


Writing is meant to move the heart, the mind, the soul – not the page-view meter. Maria Popova (


A book is simply the container of an idea — like a bottle; what is inside the book is what matters. Angela Carter


I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. Harper Lee


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


Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading. William Zinsser


The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written. Joyce Carol Oates


If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. Unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it. Charles Bukowski


What’s better, a poetic intuition or an intellectual work? I think they complement each other. Manuel Puig


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


If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves. Lillian Hellman


There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written – it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself. Mark Twain


Writing gives thought solid form. Get your raw mental process on paper. Read. Revise. Reduce. Clarify. Disciplined writing is disciplined thinking. The Stoic Emperor


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


When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest. Stephen King


Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings. Stephen King


Nothing leads so straight to futility as literary ambitions without systematic knowledge. H. G. Wells


Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable. Francis Bacon


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


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


A good title is the title of a successful book. Raymond Chandler


Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. Lev Grossman



I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. Anne Frank


Write in recollection and amazement for yourself. Jack Kerouac


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


Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. Neil Gaiman


I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. Joss Whedon


I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. Stephen King


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


Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied. Zadie Smith


Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos. Mary Shelley (Frankenstein)


I’ve found, in my own writing, that a little hatred, keenly directed, is a useful thing. Alice Walker


I have trusted to intuition. I did it at the beginning. I do it even now. I have no idea how things might turn out, where in my writing I might go next. V.S. Naipaul


I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still. Sylvia Plath


Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works. Virginia Woolf


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


Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in a human situation. Graham Greene


I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. But it is a hell of a disease to be born with. I like to do it. Which is even worse. That makes it from a disease into a vice. Then I want to do it better than anybody has ever done it which makes it into an obsession. An obsession is terrible. Hope you haven’t gotten any. That’s the only one I’ve got left. Ernest Hemingway


Writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I have ever done – so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well. Ernest Hemingway


There’s always something to write about. If there’s not then you need to live life more aggressively. Min Kim


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


When I’m writing I know I’m doing the thing I was born to do. Anne Sexton


Just as a good rain clears the air, a good writing day clears the psyche. Julia Cameron


Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences. Sylvia Plath



Writing is nothing more than a guided dream. Jorge Luis Borges


I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Dr. Seuss


The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. Albert Einstein


Writing is a product of silence and solitude. Unknown


The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power. Toni Morrison


One can never be alone enough to write. Susan Sontag


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


Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up. Stephen King


Wherever you write is supposed to be a little bit of a refuge, a place where you can get away from the world. The more closed in you are, the more you’re forced back on your own imagination. Stephen King


Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s. Stephen King


Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. John Steinbeck


Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself. Franz Kafka


Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities. Dr. Seuss


Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd. Thomas Mann


Solitude is creativity’s best friend, and solitude is refreshment for our souls. Naomi Judd


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


Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. Joseph Conrad


We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings… Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting. John Updike


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


When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature. Ernest Hemingway


There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be. Doris Lessing


In solitude I find my answers. Kristen Butler


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


Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking. Jessamyn West


Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything. Stephen King


Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one. Terry Pratchett


The best thinking has been done in solitude. Thomas Edison



Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman. Virginia Woolf


Poetry: the best words in the best order. Samuel Taylor Coleridge


The poet doesn’t invent. He listens. Jean Cocteau


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


Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. Robert Frost


Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry. Muriel Rukeyser


Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. Ernest Hemingway


Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads. Marianne Moore


Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam


Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Plutarch


Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. T. S. Eliot


Not all poetry wants to be storytelling. And not all storytelling wants to be poetry. But great storytellers and great poets share something in common: They had something to say, and did. Sarah Kay


Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn. Thomas Gray


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


A poem is never finished, only abandoned. Paul Valery


Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. Kahlil Gibran


Only the poet can look beyond the detail and see the whole picture. Helen Hayes


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


Poetry is an act of peace. Pablo Neruda



Style means the right word. The rest matters little. Jules Renard


I do not over-intellectualise the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story. Tom Clancy


Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life. Hunter S. Thompson


Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear. Ezra Pound


My aim in constructing sentences is to make the sentence utterly easy to understand, writing what I call transparent prose. I’ve failed dreadfully if you have to read a sentence twice to figure out what I meant. Ken Follett


After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. Philip Pullman


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I want the story to have a rhythm that keeps moving forward. Because that’s the whole point of telling a story. You’re on a journey — you’re going from here to there. It’s got to move. Ursula K. Le Guin


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


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


Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. Anton Chekhov


And one of [the things you learn as you get older] is, you really need less… My model for this is late Beethoven. He moves so strangely and quite suddenly sometimes from place to place in his music, in the late quartets. He knows where he’s going and he just doesn’t want to waste all that time getting there. … One is aware of this as one gets older. You can’t waste time. Ursula K. Le Guin


My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way. Ernest Hemingway


Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. 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


When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done. Stephen King


All stories have to at least try to explain some small portion of the meaning of life. Gene Weingarten


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



You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. Jodi Picoult


It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Gerald Brenan


There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. William Somerset Maugham


Trust your reader, don’t try to describe things. Give a hint and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination. Paulo Coelho


The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so. Ray Bradbury


Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance. James Baldwin


In a story it’s the scene – the setting / characters / action / interaction / dialogue / feelings – that makes us hold our breath, and cry .. and turn the page to find out what happens next. And so, until the scene ends, each sentence should lead to the next sentence. Ursula K. Le Guin


Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It’s a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed. J.K. Rowling


I’ve been writing since I was six. It is a compulsion, so I can’t really say where the desire came from; I’ve always had it. My breakthrough with the first book came through persistence, because a lot of publishers turned it down. J.K. Rowling


Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised. John Steinbeck


As for “Write what you know,” I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them. Ursula K. Le Guin


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


The more I’m let alone and not worried the better I can function. Ernest Hemingway


I go out to my little office, where I’ve got a manuscript, and the last page I was happy with is on top. I read that, and it’s like getting on a taxiway. I’m able to go through and revise it and put myself – click – back into that world. Stephen King


When I’m working I work every day, three, four hours, and I try to get those six pages and I try to get them faily clean. Stephen King


All my life as a writer I have been committed to the idea that in fiction the story value holds dominance over every other facet of the writer’s craft; characterization, theme, mood, none of these things is anything if the story is dull. And if the story does hold you, all else can be forgiven. Stephen King


On first drafts: It is completely raw, the sort of thing I feel free to do with the door shut — it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts. Stephen King


Sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth; never venture a whisper about it to your friend, if he be an author especially. Amos Bronson Alcott


It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything. Virginia Woolf


Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. Annie Dillard


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



I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it. Toni Morrison


There is no friend as loyal as a book. Ernest Hemingway


The dearest ones of time, the strongest friends of the soul — books. Emily Dickinson


The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write. Ernest Gaines


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


If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time – or the tools – to write. Simple as that. Stephen King


I really think that reading is just as important as writing when you’re trying to be a writer because it’s the only apprenticeship we have, it’s the only way of learning how to write a story. John Green


Reading is important because, if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. Tomie dePaola


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


You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write. Annie Proulx


All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.


Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window. William Faulkner


Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers. Ray Bradbury


The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book. Samuel Johnson


When I graduated from high school I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library 3 days a week for 10 years. Ray Bradbury


Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river. Lisa See



Words create worlds. Pierre du Plessis


Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Rudyard Kipling


Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power. Joan Didion


I like good words that mean something. Louisa May Alcott


Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. Stephen King


Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it. J.K. Rowling


All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind. Kahlil Gibran


The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning. Mark Twain.


To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself… Anybody can have ideas – the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph. Mark Twain


Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar. E. B. White


All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time. Ernest Hemingway


When a thought takes one’s breath away, a grammar lesson seems an impertinence. Thomas W. Higginson


Being a writer requires an intoxication with language. Jim Harrison


Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own. Carol Burnett


Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, “It might have been”. John Greenleaf Whittier


Words have the power to make things happen. Frederick Buechner


Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure. Edward Thorndike


Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well. Robin Sharma


A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one. Baltasar Gracián


I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language. David Ogilvy


Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. Hermann Hesse


Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced. Aldous Huxley


Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry. Joyce Meyer


Your word is the power that you have to create; it is a gift. Don Miguel Ruiz


A poet can survive everything but a misprint. Oscar Wilde


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



I don’t write for children. I write. And somebody says, that’s for children. Maurice Sendak


I don’t want to write for adults. I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. Only children perform miracles when they read. Astrid Lindgren


Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. E.B. White


Writing for children is bloody difficult; books for children are as complex as their adult counterparts, and they should therefore be accorded the same respect. Mark Haddon


One of the nicest things about writing for children is that you don’t find them deconstructing novels. Either they like it or they don’t like it. J.K. Rowling


I didn’t write with a target audience in mind. What excited me was how much I would enjoy writing about Harry. I never thought about writing for children ― children’s books chose me. I think if it is a good book anyone will read it. J.K. Rowling


You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children. Madeleine L’Engle


So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads. Dr. Seuss



If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. Oscar Wilde


Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Henry David Thoreau


What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call. Liz Carpenter


All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened. Ernest Hemingway


A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. Italo Calvino


Read. Read anything. Read the things they say are good for you, and the things they claim are junk. You’ll find what you need to find. Just read. Neil Gaiman


If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it. Wally Lamb


Grammar is the grave of letters. Elbert Hubbard


Books worth reading are worth re-reading. Holbrook Jackson


A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. George R. R. Martin


One sure window into a person’s soul is his reading list. Mary B. W. Tabor


A real book is not one that’s read, but one that reads us. W.H. Auden


I cannot live without books. Thomas Jefferson


By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle. Kurt Vonnegut


To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart. Phyllis Theroux


Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company. Lord Byron


It takes two to write a letter as much as it takes two to make a quarrel. Elizabeth Drew


The one good thing about not seeing you is that I can write you letters. Svetlana Alliluyeva


Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


One of the pleasures of reading old letters is the knowledge that they need no answer. Lord Byron


I hold that the parentheses are by far the most important parts of a non-business letter. D.H. Lawrence


Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. John F. Kennedy


Especially in a time in which the values of reading and inwardness are so strenuously challenged, literature is freedom. Susan Sontag


The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame. Oscar Wilde


The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity. Walt Whitman



To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself. Anne Rice


Every writer I know has trouble writing. Joseph Heller


Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all. Charles Bukowski


Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing. Norman Mailer


The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. Terry Pratchett


We’re professional worriers. You’re constantly imagining things that could go wrong and then writing about them. John Green


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


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


I hate writing, I love having written. Dorothy Parker


You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well. Jennifer Egan


I’ve always said, ‘I have nothing to say, only to add.’ And it’s with each addition that the writing gets done. The first draft of anything is really just a track. Gore Vidal


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


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


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


Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. E.L. Doctorow


No book can ever be finished. While working on it we learn just enough to find it immature the moment we turn away from it. Karl Popper


I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first drafts… so it doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating. John Green


I am not a great artist, but I have always felt impelled to write. So each day I sift the sludge anew, going through the cast-off bits and pieces of observation, of memory, of speculation, trying to make something out of the stuff that didn’t go through the filter and down the drain into the subconscious. Stephen King


One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing — writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off. Lawrence Block


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


Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right. Amy Joy


Writing is a struggle against silence. Carlos Fuentes



You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one. John Wooden


Critics are those who have failed in literature and art. Benjamin Disraeli


The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Norman Vincent Peale


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


I’ve been reading reviews of my stories for twenty-five years, and can’t remember a single useful point in any of them, or the slightest good advice. Anton Chekhov


I tell writers to keep reading, reading, reading. Read widely and deeply. And I tell them not to give up even after getting rejection letters. And only write what you love. Anita Diamant


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


The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews. William Faulkner


Was I bitter? Absolutely. Hurt? You bet your sweet ass I was hurt. Who doesn’t feel a part of their heart break at rejection. You ask yourself every question you can think of, what, why, how come, and then your sadness turns to anger. That’s my favorite part. It drives me, feeds me, and makes one hell of a story. Jennifer Salaiz


I used to save all my rejection slips because I told myself, one day I’m going to autograph these and auction them. And then I lost the box. James Lee Burke


I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours — so enjoy the view. Michael York


I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. Erica Jong


As a writer, the worst thing you can do is work in an environment of fear of rejection. Carol Leifer


Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Aristotle


I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long. Louise Brown


The first thing you have to learn when you go into the arts is to learn to cope with rejection. If you can’t, you’re dead. Warren Adler


I had immediate success in the sense that I sold something right off the bat. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake and it really wasn’t. I have drawers full of — or I did have — drawers full of rejection slips. Fred Saberhagen


An absolutely necessary part of a writer’s equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself. Irwin Shaw


To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive. William Zinsser


Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. C. S. Lewis



The most important things are the hardest things to say. Stephen King


I write to discover what I know. Flannery O’Connor


The joy that isn’t shared dies young. Anne Sexton


The only story that seems worth writing is a cry, a shot, a scream. A story should break the reader’s heart. Susan Sontag


Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything… It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus. Enid Bagnold


Writers are not here to conform. We are here to challenge. We’re not here to be comfortable — we’re here, really, to shake things up. That’s our job. Jeanette Winterson


A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer. Joseph Conrad


Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise. Philip Roth


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


Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Rainer Maria Rilke


One writes most of all in order to take part in a collective enterprise. Italo Calvino


Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for. Alice Walker


Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of the world… enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space. Abraham Lincoln


Yes there is a meaning; at least for me, there is one thing that matters – to set a chime of words tinkling in the minds of a few fastidious people. Logan Persall Smith


When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. George Orwell


The only end of writing is to enable readers better to enjoy life or better to endue it. Samuel Johnson


Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood. William Howard Taft


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



Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving. Neil Gaiman


In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better. Ernest Hemingway


Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out. Charles Bukowski


If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in, the chances are very high that you will interest other people as well. Rachel Carson


Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too. Isabel Allende


The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is.. to help man endure by lifting his heart. William Faulkner


As Neil Gaiman taught me, the best way to defeat writer’s block is to get really bored. Seth Godin


The only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost. William Faulkner


In the wholeheartedness of concentration, world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done. Jane Hirshfield


Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. Kurt Vonnegut


Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance. Ralph Waldo Emerson


A poet should be so crafty with words that he is envied even for his pains. Criss Jami


At the end of the day your ability to connect with your readers comes down to how you make them feel. Benjamin J. Carey


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At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then — and only then — it is handed to you. Annie Dillard


To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being just as Proust, Radiguet and Fitzgerald did: what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it. Italo Calvino


When you’re trying to create a career as a writer, a little delusional thinking goes a long way. Michael Lewis


There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work. Susan Sontag


A writer, like an athlete, must ‘train’ every day. What did I do today to keep in ‘form’? Susan Sontag


Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life. Anne Lamott


It’s by writing.. by stepping back a bit from the real thing to look at it, that we are most present. Alison Bechdel


Truth that is naked is the most beautiful, and the simpler its expression the deeper is the impression it makes. Arthur Schopenhauer


Only a person who is congenially self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays. E.B. White


A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk. Helen Dunmore


You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things. Neil Gaiman


I want my stories to move people… to feel some kind of reward from the writing. Alice Munroe


Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand. Henry Miller



In literature, when nine hundred and ninety-nine souls ignore you, but the thousandth buys your work, or at least borrows it — that is called enormous popularity. – Arnold Bennett (1867–1931)


So often is the virgin sheet of paper more real than what one has to say, and so often one regrets having marred it. – Harold Acton, Memoirs of an Aesthete, 1948


The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. – Anaïs Nin


You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. – Ray Bradbury


Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. – E.L. Doctorow

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. – Charles Peguy


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


I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all. – Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977


I try to leave out the parts that people skip. – Elmore Leonard


If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. – Toni Morrison


What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers. – Logan Pearsall Smith, “All Trivia,” Afterthoughts, 1931


The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium. – Norbet Platt


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It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. – Vita Sackville-West


Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say. – Sharon O’Brien


Never use the word, ‘very.’ It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn’t mean anything. If you feel the urge of ‘very’ coming on, just write the word, ‘damn,’ in the place of ‘very.’ The editor will strike out the word, ‘damn,’ and you will have a good sentence. – William Allen White

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. – James Michener


The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say. – Mark Twai


Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. – William Wordsworth


Literature is the art of using words. This is not a platitude, but a truth of the first importance, a truth so profound that many writers never get down to it… – Arnold Bennett (1867–1931), How to Become an Author: A Practical Guide, 1903


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 Nabakov


Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. – Anton Chekhov


Ink and paper are sometimes passionate lovers, oftentimes brother and sister, and occasionally mortal enemies. – Terri Guillemets


Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space. – Orson Scott Card

A metaphor is like a simile. – Author Unknown


The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. – Mark Twain, letter to George Bainton, 1888  [“Don’t mistake vivacity for wit, thare iz about az mutch difference az there iz between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Josh Billings’ Farmer’s Allminax for January 1871 —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it. – Jules Renard, “Diary,” February 1895


Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. – Author Unknown


A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer. – Karl Kraus


A prose writer gets tired of writing prose, and wants to be a poet. So he begins every line with a capital letter, and keeps on writing prose. – Samuel McChord Crothers, “Every Man’s Natural Desire to Be Somebody Else,” The Dame School of Experience, 1920


When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen. But if you have not a pen, I suppose you must scratch any way you can. – Samuel Lover, Handy Andy, 1842


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

Writing is my time machine, takes me to the precise time and place I belong. – Jeb Dickerson


I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork. – Peter De Vries


Words — so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. – Nathaniel Hawthorne


A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote. – Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960


Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind. – Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957


Writing is a solitary and rather self-absorbed way to occupy vast tracts of time, but it can be immensely rewarding. – Cliff McNish, 2012,


To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make. – Truman Capote, McCall’s, November 1967


A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right. – John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune, 1961 September 10th


I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top. – English professor at Ohio University, name unknown


Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. – Hannah Arendt

It seems to me that the problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring, is that every day we vacillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order. – Ann Beattie, Picturing Will, 1989


For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain [and] the noise of battle. – John Cheever


[I]n the hands of a master of music, the words and the air have been specially adapted, and when sung together make the most delightful music one could wish to hear. In this species of prose-melody [Alexander] Smith excels. – “Books, Catalogues, &c.” (review of Smith’s Dreamthorp), The Gardener’s Monthly, April 1864


Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.
– William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”


No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous. – Henry Brooks Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907


Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable. – Francis Bacon


The expression “to write something down” suggests a descent of thought to the fingers whose movements immediately falsify it. – William Gass, “Habitations of the Word,” Kenyon Review, October 1984


The pen sometimes builds a more enduring monument than can the hammer or chisel. – James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher’s Stone, 1882


A man may speak with his tongue and only be heard around the corner; but another man may speak with his pen and be heard around the globe. – James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


The influence of the platform is much more potent than that of the pen. – James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher’s Stone, 1882

Be obscure clearly. – E.B. White


Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher. – Flannery O’Connor


It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them. The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page. – Joan Baez


When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence. – Samuel Butler


Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains — God composes, why shouldn’t we? – Terri Guillemets


Every great writer is a writer of history, let him treat on almost any subject he may. – Walter Savage Landor, Imaginary Conversation: Diogenes and Plato


Let me walk through the fields of paper
touching with my wand
dry stems and stunted
– Denise Levertov, “A Walk through the Notebooks”


When we see a natural style we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man. – Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 1670


Every writer I know has trouble writing. – Joseph Heller


Writer’s block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite. – Terri Guillemets


A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one. – Baltasar Gracián, translated from Spanish


When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. – Enrique Jardiel Poncela

I asked Ring Lardner the other day how he writes his short stories, and he said he wrote a few widely separated words or phrases on a piece of paper and then went back and filled in the spaces. – Harold Ross


When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.
– Lewis Carroll


All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so you can give that to people, then you are a writer. – Ernest Hemingway, “Old Newsman Writes: A Letter from Cuba,” in Esquire, December 1934


Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. – Sholem Asch


The ablest writer is only a gardener first, and then a cook: his tasks are, carefully to select and cultivate his strongest and most nutritive thoughts; and when they are ripe, to dress them, wholesomely, and yet so that they may have a relish. – Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


An author plants the alphabet — and harvests flowers, nourishment, and weeds. – Terri Guillemets


Writers spend three years rearranging 26 letters of the alphabet. It’s enough to make you lose your mind day by day. – Richard Price


If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad. – Lord Byron

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


I’d rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer. – Jack Smith


Is a stolen copyright a copywrong? – Anonymous


[T]he author who has not made warm friends and then lost them in an hour by writing things that did not agree with the preconceived ideas of these friends, has either not written well or not been read. – Elbert Hubbard, “Harriet Martineau,” Little Journeys to the Homes of Famous Women, 1897


An incurable itch for scribbling takes possession of many, and grows inveterate in their insane breasts. – Juvenal, Satires


Writing is a struggle against silence. – Carlos Fuentes


[W]riting is a product of silence and solitude. – Comparison, Graduate School of Comparative Literature, University of Warwick, 1979


Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will none the less get something that looks remarkably like it. – Jack London, “Getting Into Print,” 1905

The process of writing has something infinite about it. Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation. – Elias Canetti


It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. If you do not believe in the characters or the story you are doing at that moment with all your mind, strength, and will, if you don’t feel joy and excitement while writing it, then you’re wasting good white paper, even if it sells, because there are other ways in which a writer can bring in the rent money besides writing bad or phony stories. – Paul Gallico, “Confessions of a Story Writer,” 1946


I have no doubt at all the Devil grins,
As seas of ink I spatter.
Ye gods, forgive my “literary” sins—
The other kind don’t matter.
– Robert W. Service (1874–1958)  [James A. Mackay’s biography of Service was titled “Vagabond of Verse” — that phrase was actually first used by Charles Kennett Burrow in an 1896 poem “Blind Mæonides.” —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper. – Isaac Bashevis Singer


One hates an author that’s all author. – George Gordon, Lord Byron, “Beppo”


What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window. – Burton Rascoe


[I]t’s not a good idea to try to put your wife into a novel. Not your latest wife, anyway. – Norman Mailer, quoted in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, Third Series, 1967


The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. – Agatha Christie


Every word born of an inner necessity — writing must never be anything else. – Etty Hillesum, quoted in Ten Fun Things to Do Before You Die by Karol Jackowski


As a writer, I have mistaken how to use words. I write too much. I write like some people talk to fill silence. When I write, I am trying through the movement of my fingers to reach my head. I’m trying to build a word ladder up to my brain. Eventually these words help me come to an idea, and then I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite what I’d already written (when I had no idea what I was writing about) until the path of thinking, in retrospect, feels immediate. – Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock: A Diary, 2015


The pen wherewith thou dost so heavenly sing
Made of a quill from an angel’s wing.
– Henry Constable (1562–1613)


[P]oets’ Pens, pluckt from Archangels’ wings… – John Davies of Hereford (c.1565–1618)


…The feather, whence the pen
Was shaped…
Dropped from an Angel’s wing…
– William Wordsworth (1770–1850), “Ecclesiastical Sketches: Walton’s Book of Lives”


If often seems as if inspired minds had penned their words of wisdom and beauty with quills plucked from the wings of angels. – James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher’s Stone, 1882


Goosequill.— A little tube which, in the hands of modern dramatists, seems to have the power of reproducing its parental hisses. – “Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words,” The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824

A writer’s mind seems to be situated partly in the solar plexus and partly in the head. – Ethel Wilson


It is a pity that we cannot examine an author’s literary entrails, so as to see on what wisdom he has been feeding. – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908


Publication – is the auction of the Mind of Man. – Emily Dickinson


When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation. – Jorge Luis Borges


If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves. – Don Marquis


There are men that will make you books, and turn them loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters. – Miguel de Cervantes


Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake. – E.L. Doctorow


It is not my sentence that I polish, but my thought. I pause until the drop of light that I need is formed and falls from my pen. – Joseph Joubert (1754–1824), translated from French by George H. Calvert, 1866


The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight. – Ralph Waldo Emerson


A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. – Henry David Thoreau


You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. – Arthur Polotnik


An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff. – Adlai Stevenson, quoted in Ronald D. Fuchs, You Said a Mouthful


Dear little children of my pen,
The editors too often spank you,
And send you flying home again
With little notes that say, “No, thank you.”
They never seem to comprehend
How much of love it took to rear you…
However that may be, my dears,
Though in a darkened desk he shoves you,
Just go to sleep and dry your tears—
Remember that your daddy loves you.
– James P. Haverson (1880–1954), “Pen Prodigals,” Sour Sonnets of a Sorehead & Other Songs of the Street, 1908


The writer who uses weak arguments and strong epithets is like the landlady who gives weak tea and strong butter. – “Wit and Humor,” Gleason’s Monthly Companion, March 1879


Let me sometimes dance
With you,
Or climb
Or stand perchance
In ecstasy,
Fixed and free
In a rhyme,
As poets do.
– Edward Thomas (1878-1917), “Words”

Do not write the conclusion of a work in your familiar study. You would not find the necessary courage there. – Walter Benjamin


Pen.— The silent mouthpiece of the mind, which gives ubiquity and immortality to the evanescent thought of a moment. – “Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words,” The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824‑5


With many readers, brilliancy of style passes for affluence of thought; they mistake buttercups in the grass for immeasurable gold mines under ground. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh: A Tale, 1849


The first goal of writing is to have one’s words read successfully. – Robert Brault,


Most editors are failed writers — but so are most writers. – T.S. Eliot


Human language may be polite and powerless in itself, uplifted with difficulty into expression by the high thoughts it utters, or it may in itself become so saturated with warm life and delicious association that every sentence shall palpitate and thrill with the mere fascination of the syllables…. There may be phrases which shall be palaces to dwell in, treasure-houses to explore; a single word may be a window from which one may perceive all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them. Oftentimes a word shall speak what accumulated volumes have labored in vain to utter: there may be years of crowded passion in a word, and half a life in a sentence. – Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “Letter to a Young Contributor,” The Atlantic Monthly, April 1862


Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring…
– Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), “The Joy of Writing,” No End of Fun, 1967, translated from the Polish by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh


What would there be in a story of happiness? Only what prepares it, only what destroys it can be told. – André Gide


Between the two windows stood the writing-table, covered with heaps of newspapers, stacks of letters, mountains of ledgers, bound in canvas or leather, and tipped with brass at the corners; a chaos for every eye and every hand but the master’s. – Franz von Dingelstedt, Die Amazone: Novelle, 1869, translated from German by J.M. Hart


Some writers have beautiful poetry inside that explodes from the pen into prose. Others hold their inner prose until it implodes to poetry. – Terri Guillemets


Never use a figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut out a word, cut it out. Never use the passive where you can use the active. Never use a foreign phrase, scientific word, or jargon if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. – George Orwell, 1946, “Politics and the English Language”  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Some authors write with a grave ink, of a dramatic pen dipped into their dark souls. – Terri Guillemets


Authors and lovers always suffer some infatuation, from which only absence can set them free. – Samuel Johnson


I confess I seldom commune with my conscience when I write. – Anton Chekhov


But books there are with nothing fraught,—
Ten thousand words, and ne’er a thought;
Where periods without period crawl,
Like caterpillars on a wall,
That fall to climb, and climb to fall;
While still their efforts only tend
To keep them from their journey’s end.
– James Montgomery (1771–1854), “The Pleasures of Imprisonment: In Two Epistles to a Friend”

Lists are the butterfly nets that catch my fleeting thoughts… – Betsy Cañas Garmon,  [And a resounding INFJ-hallelujah! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


A good style should show no signs of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident. – W. Somerset Maugham, Summing Up, 1938


They lard their lean books with the fat of others’ works. – Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621


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


It is plagiarism when you take something out of a book and use it as your own. If you take it out of several books then it is research. – Quoted by Ralph Foss, 1932(Thanks, Garson O’Toole of!)


Some writers collect their disjointed ideas from all authors within their reach, just as the paper they write on is made from the tattered rags of all the stuff on earth. – George Denison Prentice, Prenticeana; Or, Wit and Humor in Paragraphs, 1859


My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin. – Karl Kraus


As to the Adjective: When in doubt, strike it out. – Mark Twain


We write to remember our nows later. – Terri Guillemets


As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me: grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall. – Virginia Woolf


Caress your phrase tenderly: it will end by smiling at you. – Anatole France


I think it’s bad to talk about one’s present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act. It discharges the tension. – Norman Mailer


…the wonderful poems interpreting with equal magic the romance of strange lands and times, or the modern soul, naked and unashamed, as if clothed in its own complexity; the humorous-tragic questionings of the universe; the delicious travel-pictures and fantasies; the lucid criticisms of art, and politics, and philosophy, informed with malicious wisdom, shimmering with poetry and wit. – Israel Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto, “From a Mattress Grave,” 1897  [of the magic pen of Heinrich Heine —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


An author, behind his words, is naked. – Terri Guillemets


My prose style at this time was a stomach-twisting blend of the Bible, Carl Sandburg, H.L. Mencken, Jeffrey Farnol, Christopher Morley, Samuel Pepys, and Franklin Pierce Adams imitating Samuel Pepys. I was quite apt to throw in a “bless the mark” at any spot, and to begin a sentence with “Lord” comma. – E.B. White (1899–1985)

When I don’t make any progress, it is because I have bumped into the wall of language. Then I draw back with a bloody head. And would like to go on. – Karl Kraus, translated from German by Harry Zohn


The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend. – Isaac Bashevis Singer


A well-disposed research librarian is a writer’s best friend, as essential as ink. – Barbara Rogan, Suspicion, 1999


To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all. – Lord Byron


Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes. – Theodore Dreiser


There is a zone to writing. It takes some effort, some hours of struggle to reach, but once you’re there, the words flow as if from a spigot. Thoughts fill up the page. Your fingers function independently of your body and brain as you tap out the poetry. It’s the groove that baseball hitters speak of. The hot hand that basketball players relish. It is that sweet moment in a race car when everything slows down despite the speedometer reading 175 miles per hour. Everything doable in life has a zone like this. Find it and get into it. – Joe Kita, “What I Know” (Heaven on Earth), Wisdom of Our Fathers, 1999


It is the little writer rather than the great writer who seems never to quote, and the reason is that he is never really doing anything else. – Havelock Ellis


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


Author by night,
Editor by sun.
– Terri Guillemets, “Candlelit words,” 1992


You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write. – Saul Bellow


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. – Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Samuel Johnson (, Frank Lynch!)


Strictly speaking, we have only layers of novels and comedies; few are grown from the seed. – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908


How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live! – Henry David Thoreau, journal, 1851 August 19th


The land of literature is a fairy land to those who view it at a distance, but, like all other landscapes, the charm fades on a nearer approach, and the thorns and briars become visible. – Washington Irving


As is invariably noted at the beginning of positively all literary biographies, the little boy was a glutton for books…. For his first writing exercise he painstakingly reproduced: “Obey your sovereign, honor him and submit to his laws,” and the compressed ball of his index finger thus remained ink-stained forever. Now the thirties are over and the forties have begun. – Vladimir Nabokov, The Gift, 1963, translated from Russian by Michael Scammell


Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head. – From the movie Finding Forrester

It is impossible to discourage the real writers — they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write. – Sinclair Lewis


I take joy in what I do. I have a wonderful relationship with my waking self every morning and that hour around 7:30 when your brain is not connected to your ears, when it’s floating around inside your head full of metaphors. I lie in bed and I watch the metaphors collect and drift and when they reach a certain point of collision, I jump out of bed and get them down before they go away. – Ray Bradbury, National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters acceptance speech, 2000 November 15th


Reading in bed is a gateway drug to writing in bed. – Terri Guillemets


[T]he author writes as a race-horse runs, for the sake of it. He feels like it, and kindles just because he enjoys burning. – The Living Way, edited and published by S.D. Simonds, Volume III, 1872, referring to Joaquin Miller and his poem “Isles of the Amazons”


True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
– Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism”


Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen? – Friedrich Nietzsche


A good author dances on typewriter keys. – Terri Guillemets


It is indeed certain, that whoever attempts any common topick, will find unexpected coincidences of his thoughts with those of other writers; nor can the nicest judgment always distinguish accidental similitude from artful imitation. – Samuel Johnson, 1751


Writing is both mask and unveiling. – E.B. White


So Friar Jerome began his Book.
From break of dawn till curfew-chime
He bent above the lengthening page,
Like some rapt poet o’er his rhyme.
– T.B. Aldrich (1836–1907), “Friar Jerome’s Beautiful Book,” A.D. 1200


Being an author is being in charge of your own personal insane asylum. – Terri Guillemets


As children, some of us liked magic and fantasy, more than reality. So, we became writers. – Dr. SunWolf,


I have succeeded in arresting some casual wing of thought as it flew, some transient wave of emotion as it subsided… – William Watson, “A Note on Epigram,” 1883


Dialogue is not just quotation. It is grimaces, pauses, adjustments of blouse buttons, doodles on a napkin, and crossings of legs. – Jerome Stern, Making Shapely Fiction, 1991


How can a man freshen and enrich his style? Read and reread the Bible and Shakespeare and Defoe and Swift and Bunyan and Tennyson, for all of these have a genius for pouring the water of life into the clay jugs of Saxon speech. – Charles Edward Jefferson, “Thy Speech Bewrayeth Thee,” Quiet Hints to Growing Preachers in My Study, 1901


Let’s hope the institution of marriage survives its detractors, for without it there would be no more adultery and without adultery two thirds of our novelists would stand in line for unemployment checks. – Peter S. Prescott


I have given up writing and married a farmer…. He has to hire “a help,” and do the chores himself, while I, sure of food and shelter for the first time in my life, sit by the fire, and think. – Malheureuse, “Four For a Cent,” in The Overland Monthly, January 1893  [“On the whole, it is all rubbish your going to a farm. The soul is more than flesh, etc. You had better much come up to London.” – Ezra Pound, letter to Iris Barry, 1916 September 22nd —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Writing did not save my life… but it has continued to do what it always has done: it makes my life a brighter and more pleasant place.
Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy…. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.
Drink and be filled up. – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, 2000


The author, as a rule, dearly loves every line of his work, from the first stroke down to the dotlet on the i, and certainly has a right to it. – Gustav Boehm, “A Discourse on Title Page Composition,” in The Inland Printer (Chicago), March 1886


I write to mend
those places that got
snagged, ripped or frayed
while being human,
with other humans….
– Erika Harris, “Why I Write,” 2014,


Pen and ink is wit’s plough. – Proverbs, ed. John Ray, 1737

Writing is a trade, and writers who do not avail themselves of the best tools obtaining for their purpose, must always work at a disadvantage. Few of them try to get along without paper, pen, and ink; but many seem to think that no other tools are necessary. For shears and mucilage, particularly, some writers seem to have an unconquerable aversion. Pinned manuscripts are a common cause of vigorous comment in editorial offices. Along with rolled manuscripts they are the detestation of every editor. Women pin together the palely-written sheets of their scented manuscript when sending a poem to the printer. Men are often guilty of diverting pins from their proper use in the place of missing suspender buttons to their improper use where what the children call “gum-stickum” would be so much more appropriate.
There is no prejudice against the use of paste and shears. When you want to fasten two bits of paper together, stick the two pieces permanently together with the mucilage-brush. By trimming and pasting you can make the separate sheets of your copy all the same size, and that editors regard as a desideratum. For example, if you want to insert ten lines in the middle of page 19 of your closely-written manuscript, cut the page in two at the place in question, write the addition on a new sheet and paste it on, cutting off the lower portion so as to make the sheet of uniform size with the rest. Then paste the rest of the original sheet 19 on a blank sheet of your copy paper and number it “19½,” or “19A,” then “19B,” “19C,” &c. All this is a very simple matter, of course, but it is just what every editor wishes every one of his contributors would do every time in such a case.
Pencils with red and blue leads, and a bottle of red ink are cheap and handy tools that are seldom found on writers’ desks. A blotter, a large pad of blotting-paper, box of rubber bands, a foot rule with bevelled edges, all save time, are always a convenience, and will be constantly appreciated. Scrap-books, pigeon-hole cases, reference books, envelope files, and such helps to writers deserve more special attention.
Stylographic pens, fountain pens, type-writers, manifold books, and such inventions are extremely desirable, of course; but they cost a good deal of money.
– William H. Hills, “Tools for Writers,” in The Writer: A Monthly Magazine for Literary Workers, August 1887, wording slightly altered  [Oh, how we take for granted our Ctrl+X and Ctrl+V! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


The best writers always make poetry, whether it comes out prose or verse. – Terri Guillemets


I really would like to stop working forever—never work again, never do anything like the kind of work I’m doing now—and do nothing but write poetry and have leisure to spend the day outdoors and go to museums and see friends…. Just a literary and quiet city-hermit existence. – Allen Ginsberg


I took my paper and ink into the garden, looking up to God for assistance, and wrote freely for two hours. I find all the difference in writing out of doors, with quiet and pleasing objects before my eyes, and within, where I can do nothing without closing my eyes upon the things before me. – Henry Martyn (1781–1812), journal, 1804 May 4th


A nom-de-plume is an affectation and is not calculated to impress an editor favorably. There is no more reason why a writer should sign a fictitious name to his work, than for a painter to do so with his canvases or for John Smith to put the name of Roderick Random over the store where he sells pork and molasses. – James Knapp Reeve, Practical Authorship, 1910


Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself. – Franz Kafka


Kafka became a model for me, a continuing inspiration. Not only did he exhibit an irrepressible originality—who else would think of things like this!—he seemed to say that only in one’s most personal language can the crucial tales of a writer be told. Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. Only if you do that can you hope to make the reader feel a particle of what you, the writer, have known and feel compelled to share. – Anne Rice, 1995


There is but one element that is constant in the flux of fashions. No matter what cut or what cloth the style of the day imposes, flesh and blood must wear the garment. So with fiction. Now flowery and flowing, now tailor-made and unadorned, words and their weaving follow many models. – J.B. Kerfoot, “A Row of Books,” Everybody’s Magazine, July 1909  [review of Eden Phillpotts’ “The Three Brothers” —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed; an architectural one, where it is constructed; and finally, a textile one, where it is woven. – Walter Benjamin


An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere. – Gustave Flaubert

If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don’t remove it — I may be writing in my dreams. – Terri Guillemets


There’s only one person who needs a glass of water oftener than a small child tucked in for the night, and that’s a writer sitting down to write. – Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966


One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one’s own flesh in the inkpot, each time one dips one’s pen. – Leo Tolstoy


A writer is successful not because he writes paragraphs but because he writes emotions. – Terri Guillemets, “Conduit,” 2007


The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book. – Samuel Johnson


The printing press is the mother of errors. – Italian proverb


Those who have had experience with type are aware of its satanic persistence towards error. – Author unknown


Authors are magpies, echoing each other’s words and seizing avidly on anything that glitters. – Bergen Evans


But words are finer tools; they give
A meaning, hid in form and hue;
In them a subtler truth may live
Than brush or pencil ever drew.
– Hannah R. Hudson, “Word-Painting,” Poems, 1874  [alternatively published as “Poet and Painter” —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


What things there are to write, if one could only write them! My mind is full of gleaming thought; gay moods and mysterious, moth-like meditations hover in my imagination, fanning their painted wings. But always the rarest, those streaked with azure and the deepest crimson, flutter away beyond my reach. – Logan Pearsall Smith


Let your pen faithfully reflect the glint of light from your soul. – Terri Guillemets


No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published. – Russell Lynes


Papa is a literary person—he will do it, although so many people have told him that it is not the profession of a gentleman—and I do not see why I should not write for publication also. He is gone down to the beach for the afternoon; and here are his pens, ink, and foolscap paper, and his big slanting stand-up desk—which he woulddrag down with him to the sea-side, in spite of mama’s protestations—and here is his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases without which, he was owned to me in private, he could never write a line. I stand upon the footstool, to give me the requisite height; I tap my forehead with my forefinger, in the most approved literary manner; I frown a frown of concentrated intellect, and become a ‘We’—an authoress—for the first time. – Lucy Penfeather, “Friends of the Swellingtons,” in Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, 1864 November 26th


Most writers have a cherished beat-up typewriter and a favorite well-maintained pen. – Terri Guillemets


A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end… but not necessarily in that order. – Jean Luc Godard

Any real writer — or reader — has had a papercut on the forehead at least once. – Terri Guillemets


I sometimes get up at night when I can’t sleep and walk down into my library and open one of my books and read a paragraph and say My God, did I write that? – Ray Bradbury, National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters acceptance speech, 2000 November 15th


When at times I come across a good idea of mine in one of my old notebooks, I am astonished how foreign it has become to me and my system, and am as delighted with it as if it were the thought of one of my predecessors. – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), “The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance”  [Lichtenberg’s unfinished “autopsychography” (Norman Alliston, 1908). —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Your writing chamber isn’t the office or the study — it’s your heart. – Terri Guillemets


A health to the Knight of the Pencil,
A health to the Lord of the Quill;
A health to the writers of fiction,
A health to the gleaners of fact;
A health to the slaves of the ink-pot,
A health to them all, the disciples of gall!
– James P. Haverson (1880–1954), “Dedicatory: To Newspaper Men — By One of Them,” Sour Sonnets of a Sorehead & Other Songs of the Street, 1908  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Loafing is the most productive part of a writer’s life. – James Norman Hall


A harsh critique is a pen stab through the heart — and the resultant inkbleed. – Terri Guillemets


[K]now ye, know ye, that I would write like Mrs. Browning or George Eliot if I could. Would it not be prettier to write of moonlight and love, to murmur of the sheen of midnight rivers and the matin chant of virginal souls? Would I, think you, gyre and gimble in the wabe of print as I do, could wishes make me a sweet little unspankable cherub, grown moon-cheeked upon a diet of air? – Malheureuse, “Four For a Cent,” in The Overland Monthly, January 1893


Writing while awake is hard it seems
Go to sleep and write in your dreams
Then you can speak truly from the heart
When inhibition and pen do part.
– Terri Guillemets


Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators. – Olin Miller (1893–1981)


The traditional sacrifices for a writer are soul and sleep. – Terri Guillemets


Whatever an author puts between the two covers of his book is public property; whatever of himself he does not put there is his private property, as much as if he had never written a word. – Gail Hamilton


In writing, you either stick with it and keep revising until it’s done, no matter how long it takes — or set it aside a few years until you’ve distanced yourself enough to get it right. The wait is just as excruciating as the work. – Terri Guillemets


With scraps of paper, scribbled o’er,
Strew’d are the table, desk, and floor,
And one else vacant chair.
Its master in the other sits;
Ransacks his memory, racks his wits,
For simile, or rhyme;
Now writes a line, now rubs it out;
Now o’er another hangs in doubt;
Nor heeds, nor thinks of time….
‘Tis past the noon of night, and yet
He seems, while writing, to forget
The silent lapse of hours;
And that a tenement of clay,
Prone to derangement and decay,
Contains his mental powers.
But he is happy, for the time,
Thus bodying forth in simple rhyme…
– Bernard Barton, “Stanzas on the Approach of Winter” (from stanzas XIV, XV, XVII, and XVIII), Napoleon and Other Poems, 1822  [Barton (1784–1849) was known as The Quaker Poet. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Words were the only net to catch a mood, the only sure weapon against oblivion. – Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver, 1930s

My pen has multiple personalities. – Terri Guillemets, “Named & maimed,” 2000


It’s the professional deformation of many writers, and has ruined not a few. (I remember Kingsley Amis, himself no slouch, saying that he could tell on what page of the novel Paul Scott had reached for the bottle and thrown caution to the winds.) – Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: Some Confessions and Contradictions, 2010, about alcohol


Love letters and poems aren’t the least bit difficult to write, if you write directly from your heart into the ink and don’t channel through your brain first. – Terri Guillemets


Some books come to you…. They are bonuses, gifts. You do not have to kill some little part of your flesh to dredge them up. This is a fatal shade mystical, but it is almost as if you are serving as agent for a book which wants to get itself written. So the author never knows what to think of such books when he is done. His real fondness — since writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing — is more for those books he delivered out of his own flesh, torn and deadened by the process, but able at least to use all art and craft, all accumulated lore. – Norman Mailer, “Mr. Mailer Interviews Himself,” in The New York Times Book Review, 1967 September 17th


Was it only by dreaming or writing that I could find out what I thought? – Joan Didion


I could give you a number of examples to show how widespread has been this practice of mutual pilfering among the authors of our old literature…. by transferring something of theirs to his own immortal work he [Virgil] has ensured that the memory of these old writers—whom, as the tastes of today show, we are already beginning to deride as well as to neglect—should not wholly perish. – Macrobius, Saturnalia


I write because I’m afraid to say some things out loud. – Gordon Atkinson,


I’m a singer-songwriter…. If I’m not doing it, I’m like a flower without water. When I’m doing it, I’m a sunflower six feet tall…. Writing songs is like free therapy. Instead of paying a guy 125 bucks an hour to pull stuff out of me, I pull it out of myself and put it on paper. And then I own it, but it doesn’t own me. – Rob from Tucson, Arizona, Intervention, season 8, episode 4, original airdate 2009 December 21st


Journal: fitting your heart and soul into ruled lines. – Terri Guillemets, “Inside the lines, outside the box,” 1998


A journal is a journey — our own personal passages of self. – Terri Guillemets, “Voyages,” 1993


[G]usto thrives on freedom, and freedom in art, as in life, is the result of a discipline imposed by ourselves. Moreover, any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others. – Marianne Moore (1887–1972), lecture, 1948


Sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth; never venture a whisper about it to your friend, if he be an author especially. – A. Bronson Alcott


Writing is both a sacrificing and a saving of soul. – Terri Guillemets


At the point of the pen is the focus of the mind. – James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher’s Stone, 1882


The pen is a tree whose fruit is expression. – Oriental proverb

The artist’s only responsibility is 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, quoted in M. Cowley, Writers at Work, 1958


Other than actually putting pen to paper, I can’t think of another more important duty of the writer than to stare wistfully out a window. – Terri Guillemets


A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. – Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947


When her work was done, she ran away to her books with the greatest possible delight. Even when very young, she would hide away with books, pen, ink, and paper, rather than play with her schoolmates. Her father and mother used to wonder what she did with so much paper; but she was too bashful to show what she wrote. Her mother, therefore, was much surprised, when searching in a dark closet, she found a number of little books, made of writing paper, evidently done by a child. The writing consisted of little verses, written to the pictures she had drawn on the opposite page. She cried when she found her treasures had been discovered, and then they were given to her, she took an early opportunity to burn them secretly; this shows how natural it is for people of good sense to be bashful about their own productions. – “Lives of Celebrated Children, No. 2,” Monthly Repository and Library of Entertaining Knowledge, July 1830, of Lucretia Maria Davidson (1808–1825)


The reason why many people are so fond of using superlatives, is, they are so positive that the poor positive is not half positive enough for them. – Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. – Edna St. Vincent Millay


[A] great writer creates his precursors. – Jorge Luis Borges, Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952, translated from Spanish


The only cure for writer’s block is insomnia. – Terri Guillemets


Sit down, and 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. – Colette, Casual Chance, 1964


Let the pen perspire
When the mind’s afire.
– James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted. – Jules Renard, Journal, 1895 April 10th


The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies. – Ray Bradbury


Being an author is having angels whisper in your ear — and devils, too. – Terri Guillemets


Having imagination, it takes you an hour to write a paragraph that, if you were unimaginative, would take you only a minute. Or you might not write the paragraph at all. – Franklin P. Adams, Half a Loaf, 1927


You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world. – G.K. Chesterton


He transforms every bottle of ink into a scrolling trail of metaphors. – Terri Guillemets


Interviewer: You are suffering from pre-publication schizophrenia with accompanying megalomania on the manic side of the moon.
Mailer: Not the first author to be so afflicted.
– Norman Mailer, “Mr. Mailer Interviews Himself,” in The New York Times Book Review, 1967 September 17th


I start with the idea of constructing a treehouse and end with a skyscraper made of wood. – Norman Mailer


It is possible to regard Norman Mailer as one of the prices we pay for widespread literacy. – Richard Gilman, “Why Mailer Wants to be President,” in The New Republic, 1964 February 8th

The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes. – André Gide, Journals, 1894


[Walt Whitman] spent many nights drinking at Pfaff’s Beer Hall in Manhattan, a popular spot for New York’s young bohemians, freethinkers, and sarcastic literati. – Zachary Turpin, “Introduction to Walt Whitman’s ‘Manly Health and Training,'” 2016  [Wouldn’t that be a fun place to hang out, or at the least, be a fly on the wall‽ —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Life can’t ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer’s lover until death — fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant. – Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963


Each book written hardens the author a little more. Some are tough as concrete — but cracked, with a flower growing through. – Terri Guillemets


The word is mightier than the sword. – Ahiqar


The pen is mightier than the sword. – Edward Bulwer-Lytton


The tongue is mightier than the blade. – Robert Graves


The dash of a Pen, is more grievous than the counterbuse of a Lance. – George Whetstone


The typewriter is so much more to be reckoned with than the sword. – Lee Thayer, Persons Unknown, 1941


[M]any wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills… – William Shakespeare, Hamlet(II, 2, Rosencrantz)


A goose quill is mightier than a lion’s paw. – Proverbs by William Hardcastle Browne, 1900


It is an old saying, A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword: and many men are as much galled with a calumny, a scurrilous and bitter jest, a libel, a pasquil, satire, apologue, epigram, stage-play or the like, as with any misfortune whatsoever. – Robert Burton


The pen-holder is mightier than the pen. – James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher’s Stone, 1882


Alas! my child, where is the Pen
That can do justice to the Hen?
Like Royalty, she goes her way,
Laying foundations every day,
Though not for Public Buildings, yet
For Custard, Cake and Omelette….
No wonder, Child, we prize the Hen,
Whose Egg is Mightier than the Pen.
– Oliver Herford, “The Hen”


The writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax. – Alfred Kazin, Think, February 1963

i never think at all when i write
nobody can do two things at the same time
and do them both well
– Don Marquis, archys life of mehitabel, 1933


A typical Mailer bon mot: an impeccable thought and an elegant formulation, preceded by seven words of needless mush. – Jim Lewis, “The Pugilist at Rest: Norman Mailer’s Performance Comes to a Close,” 2007 November 12th  [And not just Mailer! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Our passions shape our books; repose writes them in the intervals. – Proust, The Past Recaptured, 1927


Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out. – Samuel Johnson, “Recalling the Advice of a College Tutor,” Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1791


I am tempted to call this section Economics, for it concerns the loss and gain (economically, psychically, physically) of living as a writer. Let’s settle, however, for a term that may be closer to the everyday reality: Lit Biz. Spend your working life as a writer and depend on it—your income, your spirit, and your liver are all on close terms with Lit Biz. – Norman Mailer, “Lit Biz,” The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing, 2003


An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate. – François-René de Chateaubriand, Le Génie du Christianisme, 1802


If I’m trying to sleep, the ideas won’t stop. If I’m trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness. – Terri Guillemets


My trouble is insomnia. If I had always slept properly, I’d never have written a line. – Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894–1961), Death on the Installment Plan, 1936, translated from French by Ralph Manheim, 1966  [This title — Mort à crédit — has also been published in English as “Death on Credit.” —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


The universe will do the writing for you, if you just listen closely enough. – Terri Guillemets


The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis, and we’d have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads. – William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958


Blazing starshine ink bled from her midnight pen and left glittering trails of angel words. – Terri Guillemets


There is no royal path to good writing; and such paths as do exist do not lead through neat critical gardens, various as they are, but through the jungles of self, the world, and of craft. – Jessamyn West, Saturday Review, 1957 September 21st


Writers are just people who have a whole lot on the inside that they need to get to the outside, with pen and paper their preferred method of transport. Same with dancers, artists, and singers — all the same urges with differing transportation. – Terri Guillemets


I write with great difficulty…. Don’t like to write, but like having written. Hate the effort of driving pen from line to line, work only three hours a day, but work every day. – Frank Norris  [Thanks, Garson O’Toole, Quote Investigator! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. – George Orwell, “Why I Write,” 1947 (Thanks, Jennifer)


Writing is easy. You just sit down and focus — but not too hard. – Terri Guillemets

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


He that uses many words for the explaining any subject doth, like the cuttlefish, hide himself for the most part in his own ink. – John Ray


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


The idea could even be advanced that style comes to young authors about the time they recognize that life is out there ready to kill them, kill them quickly or slowly, but something out there is not fooling. It would explain why authors who were ill in their childhood almost always arrive early in their career as developed stylists: Proust, Capote, and Alberto Moravia give three examples. Gide offers another. This notion would certainly account for the early and complete development of Hemingway’s style. He had the unmistakable sensation of being wounded so near to death that he felt his soul slide out of him, then slip back. The average young author is not that ill in childhood or that harshly used by early life. – Norman Mailer, preface to 1976 reissue of Advertisements for Myself


But he, sad-eyed and ashy-cheeked,
When slips the pen from grasping,
Sees, as he struggles, gasping,
With fame the far horizon streaked
Behind Death’s raven gory-beaked.
– J.J. Britton, “A Bookworm”


Novelists… fashioning nets to sustain and support the reader as he falls helplessly through the chaos of his own existence. – Fay Weldon


Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. – Rainer Maria Rilke


Books want to be born: I never make them. They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such. – Samuel Butler


Poetry wrapped
around my heart
like a cozy blanket
Quills in my brain
ink running through
gray matter rivulets
Dead authors ghosting
through my soul…
– Terri Guillemets


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


No man should ever publish a book until he has first read it to a woman. – Van Wyck Brooks


The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof [$h¡t] detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it. – Ernest Hemingway, interview in Paris Review, Spring 1958


I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of [$h¡t]. I try to put the [$h¡t] in the wastebasket. – Ernest Hemingway


WRITING:  A week-long business meeting with a single word. Being on a committee with a thick dictionary, thesaurus, red pen, and cup of strong coffee. Arguing with an obstinate piece of punctuation. Bleary-eyed inkstorms at 3AM, answering the call of duty whenever inspiration strikes. – Terri Guillemets, “Blotting paper,” 2010


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


For, to speak my private Opinion, I am for every Man’s working upon his own Materials, and producing only what he can find within himself, which is commonly a better Stock than the Owner knows it to be. I think Flowers of Wit ought to spring, as those in a Garden do, from their own Root and Stem, without Foreign Assistance. I would have a Man’s Wit rather like a Fountain, that feeds it self invisibly, than a River, that is supply’d by several Streams from abroad.
Or if it be necessary, as the Case is with some barren Wits, to take in the Thoughts of others, in order to draw forth their own, as dry Pumps will not play till Water is thrown into them; in that Necessity, I would recommend some of the approv’d Standard-Authors of Antiquity for your Perusal, as a Poet and a Wit; because Maggots being what you look for, as Monkeys do for Vermin in their Keepers Heads, you will find they abound in good old Authors, as in rich old Cheese, not in the new; and for that Reason you must have the Classicks, especially the most Worm-eaten of them, often in your Hands.
But with this Caution, that you are not to use those Ancients as unlucky Lads do their old Fathers, and make no Conscience of picking their Pockets and pillaging them. Your Business is not to steal from them, but to improve upon them, and make their Sentiments your own; which is an Effect of the great Judgment; and tho difficult, yet very possible, without the scurvy Imputation of Filching: For I humbly conceive, tho’ I light my Candle at my Neighbour’s Fire, that does not alter the Property, or make the Wyck, the Wax, or the Flame, or the whole Candle, less my own.
Possibly you may think it a very severe Task, to arrive at a competent Knowledge of so many of the Ancients, as excel in their Way; and indeed it would be really so, but for the short and easie Method lately found out of Abstracts, Abridgments, Summaries, &c. which are admirable Expedients for being very learned with little or no Reading; and have the same Use with Burning-Glasses, to collect the diffus’d Rays of Wit and Learning in Authors, and make them point with Warmth and Quickness upon the Reader’s Imagination. And to this is nearly related that other modern Device of consulting Indexes, which is to read Books Hebraically, and begin where others usually end; and this is a compendious Way of coming to an Acquaintance with Authors: For Authors are to be used like Lobsters, you must look for the best Meat in the Tails, and lay the Bodies back again in the Dish….
– Jonathan Swift, “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet: Together With a Proposal for the Encouragement of Poetry in this Kingdom,” 1721

The best style is the style you don’t notice. – Somerset Maugham


There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes. – William Makepeace Thackeray


I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody’s head. – John Updike


I’m not a writer. Ernest Hemingway was a writer. I just have a vivid imagination and type 90 WPM. – Tiffany Madison


When I state myself, as the representative of the verse, it does not mean me, but a supposed person. – Emily Dickinson


Authorship is exhibitionism, and readers a species of voyeur. – Terri Guillemets


Generally speaking, modern writers have lost the conception of drama. Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man’s life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that, when it is untied, the whole man is visible. – Leo Tolstoy, quoted in A. B. Goldenveizer, Talks with Tolstoi, translated by S. S. Koteliansky and Virginia Woolf, 1923


The majority of writers ought to translate themselves; there are but few thoughts that are born translated, that is, clothed with the power best fitted alike to express and transmit them. What we have in the first instance written for ourselves, should be written a second time for others. – Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847), Literature. First Section: Literature in General. Chapter III.—Literary Precepts. II. Literary Precepts— 3. Literary Precepts and Miscellaneous Observations—Rage for Reading, Outlines of Philosophy and Literature, edited by ‎Jean Frédéric Astié, 1865


Booze, pot, too much sex, failure in one’s private life, too much attrition, too much recognition, too little recognition. Nearly everything in the scheme of things works to dull a first-rate talent. But the worst probably is cowardice. – Norman Mailer  [Answer to the question what can ruin a first-rate writer —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I would always be that same maddening, monstrous mixture of pedantry, egoism, politeness, selfishness, kindliness, sneakiness, larkiness, sociability, loneliness, ambition, ordered calm and hidden intensity. I would cover my life with words. I would spray the whole bloody world with words. – Stephen Fry (b.1957), Moab is my Washpot  #INFJ

A catless writer is almost inconceivable; even Ernest Hemingway, manly follower of the hunting trophy and the bullfight, lived waist-deep in cats. It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys. – Barbara Holland (1933–2010), The Name of the Cat, 1988


Manuscripts either moulder in your drawer, or mature there. – Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882


The book’s idea or theme or meaning has been stirring about in your consciousness for months and probably years. When the idea first hits you you feel enormously stimulated and heightened. Then you wish you could get away from it, but now nothing but death can separate you from it. It’s no use…. Now everything else in your life takes second place or fades out of your consciousness altogether. Clothes are unimportant, letters go unanswered for days or even weeks, parties you regard with a lackluster eye, travel is a lure to be avoided like death, for it is ruin to the sustained rhythm of your work day. Teeth go unfilled, bodily ills run unchecked, your idea of bliss is to wake up on Monday morning knowing that you haven’t a single engagement for the entire week. You are cradled in a white paper cocoon tied up with typewriter ribbon. Awake and asleep the novel is with you, haunting you, dogging your footsteps. Strange formless bits of material float out from the ether about you and attach themselves to the main body of your story as though they had hung suspended in air for years, waiting. – Edna Ferber (1885–1968), A Peculiar Treasure, 1939


We’ve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true. – Robert Wilensky, 1996


I heard someone tried the monkeys-on-typewriters bit trying for the plays of William Shakespeare, but all they got was the collected works of Francis Bacon. – Bill Hoest (1926–1988)


I heard that if you locked William Shakespeare in a room with a typewriter for long enough he’d eventually write all the songs by the Monkees. – Author unknown



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