Quotes For Writers: Reading, Writing, Motivation, Rejection

Quotes for Writers on Reading


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

“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.”
—Steve Almond

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

“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

“In five minutes the earth would be a desert, and you cling to books.”
—Elias Canetti

“The character that lasts is an ordinary guy with some extraordinary qualities.”
—Raymond Chandler

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

“The dearest ones of time, the strongest friends of the soul—BOOKS.”
—Emily Dickinson

“Let us answer a book of ink with a book of flesh and blood.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A novel is an impression, not an argument; and there the matter must rest.”
—Thomas Hardy

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
—Nathaniel Hawthorne

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

“Books worth reading are worth re-reading.”
—Holbrook Jackson

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

“A literary creation can appeal to us in all sorts of ways—by its theme, subject, situations, characters. But above all it appeals to us by the presence in it of art. It is the presence of art in Crime and Punishment that moves us deeply rather than the story of Raskolnikov’s crime.”
—Boris Pasternak

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

“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

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

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

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

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

Quotes for Writers on Writing


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

“About no subject are poets tempted to lie so much as about their own lives.”
—Margaret Atwood

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

“The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.”
—Walter Bagehot

“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

“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”
—Ray Bradbury

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

“Writing is a delicious agony.”
—Gwendolyn Brooks

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs

“We [writers] must know that we can never escape the common misery and that our only justification, if indeed there is a justification, is to speak up, insofar as we can, for those who cannot do so.”
—Albert Camus

“Good writing is rewriting.”
—Truman Capote

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

“The original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.”

“Sit down to write what you have thought, and not to think about what you shall write.”
—William Cobbett

“Prowling about the rooms, sitting down, getting up, stirring the fire, looking out the window, teasing my hair, sitting down to write, writing nothing, writing something and tearing it up…”
—Charles Dickens

“Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”
—E.L. Doctorow

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
—E.L. Doctorow

“I really think that if there’s any one enemy to human creativity, especially creative writing, it’s self-consciousness.”
—Andre Dubus III

“I see artists as a great battalion moving through paint, words, music towards cosmological interpretation.”
—Lawrence Durrell

“Writing is always a process of discovery—I never know the end, or even the events on the next page, until they happen. There’s a constant interplay between the imagining and shaping of the story.”
—Kim Edwards

“Writing should be the settlement of dew on the leaf.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Begin with an individual, and before you know it you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find you have created—nothing.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”
—Zelda Fitzgerald

“If I had a whole day, I would write for an hour and then be completely exhausted. I would actually fall asleep on the floor of my studio for twenty minutes to half an hour. I’d reach some sort of an impasse, a psychic impasse, where I just couldn’t move forward in the writing. I would sleep and I would have a dream, and in the dream I would figure out where to go in the writing. Then I would wake up and start writing from that point. It was really this sort of accessing of the unconscious in some way. I would write for another hour and then I would fall asleep again, it would just keep happening. I’d do that maybe four times over one day. That part was an excavation.”
—Nick Flynn

“Creative writers are always greater than the causes that they represent.”
—E. M. Forster

“Love is the only energy I’ve ever used as a writer. I’ve never written out of anger, although anger has informed love.”
—Athol Fugard

“Somebody said that writers are like otters… Otters, if they do a trick and you give them a fish, the next time they’ll do a better trick or a different trick because they’d already done that one. And writers tend to be otters. Most of us get pretty bored doing the same trick. We’ve done it, so let’s do something different.”
—Neil Gaiman

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

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

“Writers live twice.”
—Natalie Goldberg

“Instead of following the rules without regard for whether they’re making our writing effective or not, we often need to question the rules. To write with style, we need at times to break the rules.”
—Donna Gorrell

“If you’re a writer, your first duty, a duty you owe to yourself and your readers, and to your writing itself, is to become wonderful. To become the best writer you can possibly be.”
—Theodora Goss

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

“As I am a poet, I express what I believe, and I fight against whatever I oppose, in poetry.”
—June Jordan

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

“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.”
—Ralph Keyes

“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”
—Stephen King

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
—Stephen King

“There are 2 typos of people in this world: Those who can edit and those who can’t.”
—Jarod Kintz

“Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, “’Listen to me.’”
—Jhumpa Lahiri

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”
—Anne Lamott

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
—Elmore Leonard

“Writing—the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye—is the great invention of the world.”
—Abraham Lincoln

“The secret of good writing is telling the truth.”
—Gordon Lish

“Revision is one of the true pleasures of writing. I love the flowers of afterthought.”
—Bernard Malamud

“I tell my students there is such a thing as ‘writer’s block,’ and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.”
—Toni Morrison

“Novels begin not on the page, but in meditation and daydreaming—in thinking, not writing.”
—Joyce Carol Oates

“If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.”
—George Orwell

“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

“The power of language, it seems to me, is the only kind of power a writer is entitled to.”
—Cynthia Ozick

“As a writer, I need an enormous amount of time alone. Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write. Having anybody watching that or attempting to share it with me would be grisly.”
—Paul Rudnik

“Until you know who you are you can’t write.”
—Salman Rushdie

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

“I start with a question. Then try to answer it.”
—Mary Lee Settle

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”
—Leo Tolstoy

“I’m writing novels because I found something I love because I tried it. Don’t be afraid to shake it up.”
—Adriana Trigani

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!”
—Henry David Thoreau

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.”
—Henry David Thoreau

“It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense.”
—Mark Twain

“I hate commas in the wrong places.”
—Walt Whitman

“A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibilities of their own souls.”
—Walt Whitman

“Be obscure clearly.”
—E B White

“I just sit at my typewriter and curse a bit.”
—P.G. Wodehouse

“There are no teachers, saints, prophets, good people, but the artists.”
—Virginia Woolf

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
—Virginia Woolf

Quotes for Writers on Motivation


“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”
—Julie Andrews

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”
—Isaac Asimov

“Talent does what it can; genius does what it must.”
—Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

“The artist must possess the courageous soul that dares and defies.”
—Kate Chopin

“The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.”
—Arthur C. Clarke

“If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.”
—St. Clement of Alexandra

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
—Leonardo da Vinci

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
—George Eliot

“It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, ‘Always do what you are afraid to do.’”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
―Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The best way out is always through.”
—Robert Frost

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”
—Samuel Johnson

“The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.”
—Douglas MacArthur

“Everybody makes their own fun. If you don’t make it yourself, it isn’t fun. It’s entertainment.”
—David Mamet

“Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.”
—George S. Patton

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
—Theodore Roosevelt

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.”
—Samuel Smiles

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.”
—William B. Sprague

“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”
—Pyotr Tchaikovsky

“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.”

“Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.”
—Johann Gottfried Von Herder

“Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day.”
—Thornton Wilder

“Luck is believing you’re lucky.”
—Tennessee Williams

“And all may do what has by man been done.”
—Edward Young

Quotes for Writers on Rejection

writers-block cartoon

“I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, ‘To hell with you.’”
—Saul Bellow

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

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.”
—James Lee Burke

“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’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

“No one put a gun to your head and ordered you to become a writer. One writes out of his own choice and must be prepared to take the rough spots along the road with a certain equanimity, though allowed some grinding of the teeth.”
—Stanley Ellin

“Failure is success if we learn from it.”
—Malcolm Forbes

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

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

“I got a rejection letter from an editor at HarperCollins, who included a report from his professional reader. This report shredded my first-born novel, laughed at my phrasing, twirled my lacy pretensions around and gobbed into the seething mosh pit of my stolen clichés. As I read the report, the world became very quiet and stopped rotating. What poisoned me was the fact that the report’s criticisms were all absolutely true. The sound of my landlady digging in the garden got the world moving again. I slipped the letter into the trash…knowing I’d remember every word.”
—David Mitchell

“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

“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 wrote poems in my corner of the Brooks Street station. I sent them to two editors who rejected them right off. I read those letters of rejection years later and I agreed with those editors.”
—Carl Sandburg

“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

“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

Source: writersrelief.com


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