Writing Quotes


I like to collect quotes about writing and the writing life. Please e-mail me any good ones you find. 

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.  ~Anton Chekhov

I'm not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing. -  Cormac McCarthy

An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations. - Charles de Montesquieu

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.  ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.  ~E.L. Doctorow

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

Until we invent telepathy, books are our best choice for understanding the rest of humanity. - Christopher Paolini 

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.  ~Vita Sackville-West

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.  ~Mark Twain

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

The wastebasket is a writer's best friend.  ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.  ~Orson Scott Card

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  ~Mark Twain

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.  ~James Michener

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood.  I'd type a little faster.  ~Isaac Asimov

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

Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.  ~Hannah Arendt

Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.  ~Francis Bacon

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one.  ~Baltasar Gracián

If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad.  ~Lord Byron

Writing is a struggle against silence.  ~Carlos Fuentes

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  ~Agatha Christie

Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake. ~E.L. Doctorow

As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me: grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall.  ~Virginia Woolf

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.  ~Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 19 August 1851

It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write.  ~Sinclair Lewis

Writing is both mask and unveiling.  ~E.B. White

Loafing is the most productive part of a writer's life.  ~James Norman Hall

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.  ~Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947

You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world.  ~G.K. Chesterton

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.  ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

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, "Why I Write," 1947

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new. ~Samuel Johnson

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

Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man's life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible.  ~Leo Tolstoy

Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.  ~Goethe

Copyright 2017 Sarah Darer Littman
PO Box 201, Cos Cob, CT 06807-0201