Writing Analytics

571 Quotes on Writing

Get inspired by the world's best writers.
Quotes illustration
“That’s the thing about books, they let you travel without moving your feet.”
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
“I’m not a very good writer… but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time… unlike, say, a brain surgeon.”
“Being an author is being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.”
“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”
“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”
“A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world.”
“It takes an awful lot of time to not write a book.”
“Setting, pace and trajectory are important, but they’re irrelevant without the reader’s emotional investment, and that is driven by characters.”
“I work very deliberately, with a plan. But sometimes I come to a point that I planned as the end and it needs softening. Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep – it can’t be done abruptly.”
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
“I get a lot of letters from people. They say, “I want to be a writer. What should I do?” I tell them to stop writing to me and get on with it.”
“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
“To write fiction, one needs a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.”
“I wasted four years waiting for agents to tell me that my book was worthy of publication. Then I decided: let readers decide what’s worth reading, not agents or publishers.”
“Although nothing about self-publishing is easy or simple, I am the captain of my own ship. Whether a title sinks or sails is on me. I am the sole steward of my failures and victories—and there will be both. Not every writer is comfortable with that responsibility.”
“My stories hit favorite lists left and right. I stood there and read through these, shaking my head in confounded bewilderment. How could I be so popular and yet rejected [by literary agents] so often?”
“Start before you’re ready.”
“Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress…”
“I don’t think of literature as an end in itself. It’s just a way of communicating something.”
“Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon.”
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”
“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”
“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
“I start with a question. Then try to answer it.”
“The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will.’ Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.”
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
“There is only one plot — things are not what they seem.”
“Creative activity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.”
“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”
“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”
“Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.”
“The characters in my novels are my own unrealised possibilities. That is why I am equally fond of them all and equally horrified by them. Each one has crossed a border that I myself have circumvented.”
“When I am writing, I’m very much on the ground, on the same ground my characters are treading.”
“The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first.”
“Let’s face it, characters are the bedrock of your fiction. Plot is just a series of actions that happen in a sequence, and without someone to either perpetrate or suffer the consequences of those actions, you have no one for your reader to root for, or wish bad things on.”
“I wish I could write books to amuse myself, as you can! How delightful it must be to write books after one’s own taste instead of reading other people’s! Homemade books must be so nice.”
“You need to be in the world and you need to be engaged with the world. It’s my job to collect jokes. It’s my job to collect startling images. And so when I’m out in the world, I’m at work. And I’m a professional.”
“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.”
“You can’t write unless you read.”
“Before I start a project, I always ask myself the following question. Why is this book worth a year of my life? There needs to be something about the theme, the technique, or the research that makes the time spent on it worthwhile.”
“I don’t think there’s a shortcut to writing novels.”
“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”
“The difference between real life and a story is that life has significance, while a story must have meaning. The former is not always apparent, while the latter always has to be, before the end.”
“Good writing is like a windowpane.”
“I wanted to be a writer, so I became one. How? I wrote things down.”
“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? ... If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”
“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”
“A writer is a world trapped in a person.”
“Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.”
“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
“Making history, it turned out, was quite easy. It was what got written down. It was as simple as that.”
“Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.”
“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”
“Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.”
“A good story is a dream shared by the author and the reader. Anything that wakes the reader from the dream is a mortal sin.”
“Instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.””
“In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new castles.”
“Literature is the original Internet – every footnote, every citation, every allusion is essentially a hyperlink to another text, to another mind.”
“Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right.”
“On first drafts: It is completely raw, the sort of thing I feel free to do with the door shut — it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.”
“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of job: It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”
“Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.”
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
“I’m very lucky in that I don’t understand the world yet. If I understood the world, it would be harder for me to write these books.”
“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.”
“One sure window into a person’s soul is his reading list.”
“I kept always two books in my pocket: one to read, one to write in.”
“The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.”
“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”
“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’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
“If possible, have something going on while you have your characters delivering exposition or philosophising. This helps retain dramatic tension.”
“Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.”
“Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”
“Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.”
“Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.”
“Don’t just plan to write — write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.”
“Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.”
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
“Find an author you admire (mine was Conrad) and copy their plots and characters in order to tell your own story, just as people learn to draw and paint by copying the masters.”
“Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.””
“The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.”
“Try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.”
“The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.”
“Decide when in the day (or night) it best suits you to write, and organise your life accordingly.”
“Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.”
“In general…there’s no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.”
“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”
“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.”
“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.”
“It’s not wise to violate the rules until you know how to observe them.”
“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”
“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”