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14 Quotes on Writing by W. Somerset Maugham

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W. Somerset Maugham was a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest-paid author during the 1930s. His most well-known works include Of Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence and The Razor's Edge.

W. Somerset Maugham on Writing

“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.”
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.”
“We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.”
“A good style should show no signs of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident.”
“The best style is the style you don't notice.”
“You cannot write well or much (and I venture the opinion that you cannot write well unless you write much) unless you form a habit.”
“Words have weight, sound and appearance; it is only by considering these that you can write a sentence that is good to look at and good to listen to.”
“Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.”
“It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer.”
“We do not write as we want, but as we can.”
“No author can create a character out of nothing. He must have a model to give him a starting point; but then his imagination goes to work, he builds him up, adding a trait here, a trait there, which his model did not possess.”
“Writing is a wholetime job: no professional writer can afford only to write when he feels like it.”
“The ideas for stories that thronged my brain would not let me rest till I had got rid of them by writing them.”
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