100 Great Quotes for Writers

100 posts!

I can’t believe it. I’m not sure what the protocol is. Should I break out the rum or sit back with a warm latte and relax? Exactly how does one celebrate writing the 100th post?? I’ve been thinking about it for weeks. Not actively thinking about it, but letting ideas float around in the background. I wanted to write a post that stood out from the others. I’ve discarded listing 100 writing prompts, as well as posting 100 random words, though I could have had a lot of fun with that one. Those are great, but I wanted something monumental that I didn’t have to spend weeks working on (although this one did takes days to put together!). Something I’d come back to over and over again, and hopefully something that would be timeless. A place my readers could visit today, or three years from now. 

I settled on 100 quotes. You might be sick of quotes, but quotes are universal. That’s the thing about them. They last forever. Besides, I’m hoping this will help me remember some of these quotes better. I hear pieces of them all the time, but sometimes I get the author wrong and I want to stop doing that. I also hoped to run across some authors I haven’t read before.

Pick one or two favorites. Write them out on post-its in dark letters and pin them up in your office. Write them in the cover of your favorite book. Chant them repeatedly to destroy the ghosts of doubt and criticism. I plan to.

The reasons:

1. “If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
–Peter Handke

2. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
–Maya Angelou

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

4. “When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.”
–Laurie Halse Anderson

5. “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

6. “Why do I write? It’s not that I want people to think I am smart, or even that I am a good writer. I write because I want to end my loneliness.”
–Jonathan Safran Foer

7. “Writing eases my suffering . . . writing is my way of reaffirming my own existence.”
–Gao Xingjian

8. “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 and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
–Graham Greene

9. “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
–Anne Lamott

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

11. “Writing is a struggle against silence.”
–Carlos Fuentes

12. “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

13. “Writing is my way of expressing – and thereby eliminating – all the various ways we can be wrong-headed.”
–Zadie Smith

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

The process:

photo courtesy of buzzfeed
photo courtesy of buzzfeed

15. “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
–Larry L. King

16. “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

17. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or ten 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

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

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

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

21. “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

22. 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

23. “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

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

25. “I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark.”
–Henry David Thoreau

26. “This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.”
–Neil Gaiman

27. “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”
–Ray Bradbury

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

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

30. “Just write. Many writers have a vague hope that elves will come in the night and finish any stories for you. They won’t.”
–Neil Gaiman

31. “You must learn to hush the demons that whisper, ‘No one wants to read this. This has already been said. Your voice doesn’t matter.’ In the rare moments when the voices finally hush, you might hear the angels singing.”
–Margaret Feinberg

32. “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

33. “Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.”
–Esther Freud

34. “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
–Shannon Halt

The struggle:

35. “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

36. “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

37. “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

38. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
–Robert Frost

39. “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
–Stephen King

40. “Writing is crude hieroglyphs chiseled in pain and sorrow to commemorate an event which is intransmissible.”
–Henry Miller

41. “Writing a novel is like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.”
–Dean Koontz

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

43. “Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.”
–Holley Gerth

44. “Writing is like a disease, you either have it or you don’t.”
–Anne Groell

45. “My writing comes not from the happy moments, but from struggle and grief.”
–Isabel Allende

46. “The sensation of writing a book is the sensation of spinning, blinded by love and daring. It is the sensation of a stunt pilot’s turning barrel rolls, or an inchworm’s blind rearing from a stem in search of a route. At its worst, it feels like alligator wrestling, at the level of the sentence.”
–Annie Dillard

47. “Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.”
–Flannery O’Connor

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

49. “To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”
–Anne Rice

50. “Writing is more than a gift. It is a struggle that blesses those who see it through to the end.”
–Nona Mae King

51. “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”
–Natalie Goldberg

52. “Thoughts fly and words go on foot. Therein lies all the drama of a writer.”
–Julien Green

53. “I hate first drafts, and it never gets easier. People always wonder what kind of superhero power they’d like to have. I wanted the ability for someone to just open up my brain and take out the entire first draft and lay it down in front of me so I can just focus on the second, third and fourth drafts.”
–Judy Blume

The Voice:

54. “A voice cannot carry the tongue and the lips that gave it wings. Alone must it seek the ether. And alone and without his next shall the eagle fly across the sun.”
–Kahlil Gibran

55. “Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.”
–Meg Rosoff

56. “Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.”
–Louise Brown

57. “The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”
–Neil Gaiman

58. “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
–Edgar Allen Poe

59. “My commodity as a writer, whatever I’m writing about, is me. And your commodity is you. Don’t alter your voice to fit your subject. Develop one voice that readers will recognize when they hear it on the page.”
–William Zinsser

60. “Writing is the painting of the voice.”

61. “Most of us find our own voices only after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.”
–Neil Gaiman

62. “When we come across a natural style, we are surprised and delighted; for we expected an author, and we find a man.”
–Blaise Pascal

63. “What a writer brings to any story is an attitude . . . ”
–John Gregory Dunne

The Truths:

64. “There is only one plot—things are not what they seem.”
–Jim Thompson

65. “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

66. “I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”
–Steven Wright

67. “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald

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

69. “The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”
–John Steinbeck

70. “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

71. “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”
–Anne Lamott

72. “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

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

74. “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
–W. Somerset Maugham

75. “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 Butler

76. “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike say, a brain surgeon.”
–Robert Cormier

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

78. “If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.”
–Anne Tyler

79. “You fail only if you stop writing.”
–Ray Bradbury

80. “You are a writer. The “normal” ship sailed without you long ago.”
–Terri Main

81. “Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.”
–Cyril Connolly

82. “It’s different for every writer. It’s not a career for anyone who needs security. It’s a career for gamblers. It’s a career of ups and downs.”
–George R. R. Martin

83. “I have never written anything in one draft, not even a grocery list, although I have heard from friends that this is actually possible.”
–Cyril Connolly

84. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”
–Terry Pratchett

85. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
–Richard Bach

86. “But when people say, ‘Did you always want to be a writer?’, I have to say, ‘No! I always was a writer.'”
–Ursula Le Guin

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

The Joy:

88. “Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.”
–Nicholas Sparks

89. “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

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

91. “Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.”
–Terry Pratchett

92. “I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.”
–Anne Rice

93. “A writer lives, at best, in a state of astonishment.”
–William Sansom

94. “Take away the art of writing from this world, and you will probably take away its glory.”

95. “I enjoy writing, sometimes; I think that most writers will tell you about the agony of writing more than the joy of writing, but writing is what I was meant to do.”
–Leon Uris

96. “Writing is an adventure.”
–Winston Churchill

97. “Writing is a sweet, wonderful reward.”
–Franz Kafka

98. “Writing isn’t about racing to the finish line; it’s about finding joy in each step of the process. If a writer focuses on the journey, the destination will take care of itself.”
–Christopher Meyerhoetler

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

100. “Love is easy, and I love writing. You can’t resist love. You get an idea, someone says something and you’re in love.”
–Ray Bradbury

Published by casblomberg

Cas Blomberg is a native-English speaking writer who lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

4 thoughts on “100 Great Quotes for Writers

    1. I know! Every time I get discouraged, I pick up my copy of ‘Zen and the Art of Writing’ by him. Within seconds I’m on fire again. He’s always excited about writing — and I love how contagious his enthusiasm is =).

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