quotations about writing

Writing quote

I will write my way into another life.

ANN PATCHETT, Truth and Beauty


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One had the right to write because other people needed news of the inner world, and if they went too long without such news they would go mad with the chaos of their lives.

ARTHUR MILLER, "The Shadows of the Gods"


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Writing has ... been to me like a bath from which I have risen feeling cleaner, healthier, and freer.

HENRIK IBSEN, Speeches and New Letters


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We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

RAY BRADBURY, Zen in the Art of Writing


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With pen and with pencil we're learning to say nothing, more cleverly each day.

WILLIAM ALLINGHAM, Blackberries Picked Off Many Bushes


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For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1954


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I just go to that same daydream-spot inside my head that I'm pretty sure all of us have. I don't know if people who don'twrite for a living actually meet strangers there, but I do, on a regular basis, and I absolutely insist they arrive with a good problem and tell me about it. There are particularly good spots for productive encounters: there's a beach I imagine and if I sit long enough and stare down the length of it, I'm sure someone will come walking down it, and most of them are interesting when they arrive. Sometimes I don't write all I meet, but most of the ones I meet do have interesting backgrounds. And sometimes I find I'm not on that beach at all, but in some space station corridor or in some castle hallway. Once these strangers tell me a little about their worlds I can make up the rest, out of smidges of geology, geography, history, archaeology, and snippets of whole cloth, and once I know their history and their quirks, I can most often figure out the rest of the story. Translation: thinking up new ideas and characters isn't hard. Writing day and night for months ... that's hard.

C. J. CHERRYH, interview, SFF World, January 1, 2000


Sex has to be good for both partners. That is also the key to writing both fiction and nonfiction. It has to be a good experience for both partners, the writer and the reader, and it is a source of distress to me to observe how frequently writers ignore the pleasure of their partners.

SOL STEIN, Stein on Writing


A writer is a reader moved to emulation.

SAUL BELLOW, attributed, The Hidden Writer


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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.



Tags: Roald Dahl

At the age of fourteen I discovered writing as an escape from a world of reality in which I felt acutely uncomfortable.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, foreword, Sweet Bird of Youth


Tags: Tennessee Williams

In writing ... remember that the biggest stories are not written about wars, or about politics, or even murders. The biggest stories are written about the things which draw human beings closer together.



Tags: Susan Glaspell

To write weekly, to write daily, to write shortly, to write for busy people catching trains in the morning or for tired people coming home in the evening, is a heartbreaking task for men who know good writing from bad. They do it, but instinctively draw out of harm's way anything precious that might be damaged by contact with the public, or anything sharp that might irritate its skin.

VIRGINIA WOOLF, The Common Reader


When I write, I don't know what is going to emerge. I begin in a condition of complete unknowing, an utter nakedness of concept or goal. A word appears, another word appears, an image. It is a moving into mystery.

JANE HIRSHFIELD, The Atlantic Online, September 18, 1997


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I first said I wanted to be a writer at the age of seven. It took longer to get that first novel out than I expected.

ELIZABETH ZELVIN, "Interview Questions and Answers", official website


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The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering. It cheapens and degrades the human experience, when it should inspire and elevate.

TOM WAITS, "Strange Innocence", Vanity Fair, July 2001


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

W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM, attributed, Literary Agents: How to Get & Work with the Right One for You


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Most writer zombies don't realize they are the undead, because they do just enough to convince themselves (and others) that they are actual writers. They talk a lot about writing -- boy, are writer zombies great talkers -- going on for hours about the screenplay or pilot they're supposedly writing or will write once they have the time. They also read writing books and blogs and take seminars because that makes them feel like they are in the game. And they take classes, especially those that impose short-term deadlines, because that gets them writing, which makes them feel alive. But once the class is over, they almost always go back to their zombie ways.

COREY MANDELL, "Beware the Writing Zombies", Huffington Post, February 25, 2016


When we attempt to articulate our tender feelings in writing, we enter an inner dialogue of self-exploration: we forage for the more precise word, the more resonant phrasing. If the writing is done with particular care and attention, there is a Goldilocks quality to it: We rustle through an assortment of terms, discarding one, perhaps as "too weak" or another "too ordinary" until we settle upon the one that is "just right". In doing so, we have discovered something about ourselves.

DANIEL GRIFFIN, "Don't Tell Him You Love Him... Put It in Writing", Huffington Post, February 15, 2016


It's not so much that we write what we know; it's that we write what we feel ... or might have felt.

NANCY LAMB, The Art and Craft of Storytelling