Quips and quotations on writing

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

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

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

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. Elmore Leonard

To be an author, you need tough hide and a tender heart. And never get them switched. JNW

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

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

[When asked “What makes Christian writing ‘Christian’?”] I told her that if she is truly and deeply a Christian, what she writes is going to be Christian, whether she mentions Jesus or not. And if she is not, in the most profound sense, Christian, then what she writes is not going to be Christian, no matter how many times she invokes the name of the Lord. Madeleine L’Engle

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

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

Writing is a socially acceptable for of schziphrenia. E. L. Doctorow

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

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

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

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God. Sidney Sheldon

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

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

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

No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing. E. B. White

Nothing terrible happens to authors, just terrific anecdotes. JNW

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences. Somerset Maugham

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor. Edgar Rice Burroughs

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. Mark Twain

[When asked if writing a daily column wasn’t “quite a chore.”] Why, no. You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed. Red Smith

Always be a poet, even in prose. Charles Baudelaire

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

When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen. Samuel Lover

Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne

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

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

What’s the difference between a pub and a pub board? Drunken Englishmen make better decisions. JNW

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

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

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

Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted. Jules Renard

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

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

An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate. François-René de Chateaubriand

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

There ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it, and ain’t a-going to no more. Huckleberry Finn

For a whole ream of resources for writers, visit Hope and humor for writers

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