(More) Quotes To Inspire and Guide You

4:35 PM

I've always loved collecting quotes. So ever since I started taking my writing life more seriously, I've amassed quite a collection of quotes on writing. Here are a few more of my favorites:

On The Love Of Writing

"We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to."

-W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965)

"No complaining about how hard it is to write, we are all so, so lucky to write, to sit down, inside, and write words on paper. There is no greater freedom, no greater good, nothing that brings more joy."

-Isabel Allende

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

- Kaari Utrio

On Work Habits

"You write by sitting down and writing. There’s no particular time or place—you suit yourself, your nature. How one works, assuming he’s disciplined, doesn’t matter."

-Bernard Malamud

"If you don’t have a writing habit, you aren’t being fair to yourself. You might even be setting yourself up for failure. If you write only when you are ‘in the mood,’ or when you ‘have some time,’ you will never be able to write enough material to see what you are good at, what needs work.

Good writers write whether they are in the mood or not. They practice whether they feel like it or not. It’s the only way. Everyday practice. That’s how you get better.

[Successful] Writers are simply people who have figured out how to spend enough time in the writing room every day in order to create enough work so that some of it is good.

Remember: You will want to avoid writing. All writers struggle with procrastination, writer’s block, distraction, or laziness. All successful writers develop strategies to deal with these issues. Conquering not-writing is probably half the battle."

-Heather Sellers

 "Finally, one just has to shut up, sit down, and write."
-Natalie Goldberg

"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

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

- Dorothy C. Fontan

Qualifications And Requirements

"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

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut."

-Stephen King

"We have to accept ourselves in order to write. Now none of us does that fully: few of us do it even halfway. Don’t wait for one hundred percent acceptance of yourself before you write, or even eight percent acceptance. Just write. The process of writing is an activity that teaches us about acceptance."

-Natalie Goldburg

"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 is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window."

-William Faulkner

"As a writer, you should have a sticky soul; the act of continually taking things in should be as much a part of you as your hair color."

-Elizabeth Berg

On The Craft Of Writing

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

-Rhys Alexander

"I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing—to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics—Well, they can do whatever they wish."
-Isaac Asimov

"Don’t say you were a bit confused and sort of tired and a little depressed and somewhat annoyed. Be tired. Be confused. Be depressed. Be annoyed. Don’t hedge your prose with little timidities. Good writing is lean and confident."

-William Zinsser

"Cut like crazy. Less is more. I’ve ­often read manuscripts – including my own – where I’ve got to the beginning of, say, chapter two and have thought: “This is where the novel should actually start.” A huge amount of information about character and backstory can be conveyed through small detail. The emotional attachment you feel to a scene or a chapter will fade as you move on to other stories. Be business-like about it."

-Sarah Waters

For Beginning Writers

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

-Earnest Hemingway

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


“I do not wish to be a famous writer. I wish to be a good one. I’ll get published when I get published.”

- Isabella Caldwell

“It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateurs.”

- Gerald Brenan

“Learn to write by doing it. Read widely and wisely. Increase your word power. Find your own individual voice though practicing constantly. Go through the world with your eyes and ears open and learn to express that experience in words.”

-P.D. James

"Write. Start writing today. Start writing right now. Don’t write it right, just write it –and then make it right later. Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, because the process of writing is a long one. Be wary of “writing rules” and advice. Do it your way.”

-Tara Moss

"If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is. Who am I? What right do I have to speak? Who will listen if I do? You’re a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle."

- Richard Rhodes

"Sometimes people say to me, “I want to write, but I have five kids, a full-time job, a wife who beats me, a tremendous debt to my parents,” and so on.

I say to them, “There is no excuse. If you want to write, write. This is your life. You are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait. Make the time now, even if it is ten minutes once a week.”

-Natalie Goldberg

Do you have any favorite quotes on writing? Let me know in the comments and I'll add them to the list.

Did you miss my first post of writing quotes? Check it out here!


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  1. Ernest not Earnest. You get this wrong in several places on your blog.