327 quotes about Writers and Writing
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The writer has a grudge against society, which he documents with accounts of unsatisfying sex, unrealized ambition, unmitigated loneliness, and a sense of local and global distress. The square, overpopulation, the bourgeois, the bomb and the cocktail party are variously identified as sources of the grudge. There follows a little obscenity here, a dash of philosophy there, considerable whining overall, and a modern satirical novel is born.
  View quote | Adler, Renata quotes

Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood. Writers are vulnerable creatures like anyone else. For what do they have in reality? Not sandbags, not timbers. Just a flimsy reputation and a name.
  View quote | Aldiss, Brian quotes

The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer in all ages of man.
  View quote | Algren, Nelson quotes

Every writer hopes or boldly assumes that his life is in some sense exemplary, that the particular will turn out to be universal.
  View quote | Amis, Martin quotes

It is rarely that you see an American writer who is not hopelessly sane.
  View quote | Anderson, Margaret quotes

To write well, express yourself like common people, but think like a wise man. Or, think as wise men do, but speak as the common people do.
  View quote | Aristotle quotes

If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster.
  View quote | Asimov, Isaac quotes

Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.
  View quote | Auden, W. H. quotes

No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.
  View quote | Auden, W. H. quotes

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
  View quote | Bach, Richard quotes

A word is a bud attempting to become a twig. How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream.
  View quote | Bachelard, Gaston quotes

Writers like teeth are divided into incisors and grinders.
  View quote | Bagehot, Walter quotes

Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it's the answer to everything. To Why am I here? To uselessness. 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.
  View quote | Bagnold, Enid quotes

The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.
  View quote | Baldwin, James quotes

Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent.
  View quote | Baldwin, James quotes

To endow the writer publicly with a good fleshly body, to reveal that he likes dry white wine and underdone steak, is to make even more miraculous for me, and of a more divine essence, the products of his art. Far from the details of his daily life bringing nearer to me the nature of his inspiration and making it clearer, it is the whole mystical singularity of his condition which the writer emphasizes by such confidences. For I cannot but ascribe to some superhumanly the existence of beings vast enough to wear blue pajamas at the very moment when they manifest themselves as universal conscience.
  View quote | Barthes, Roland quotes

On the day when a young writer corrects his first proof-sheet he is as proud as a schoolboy who has just got his first dose of pox.
  View quote | Baudelaire, Charles quotes

All a writer has to do to get a woman is to say he's a writer. It's an aphrodisiac.
  View quote | Bellow, Saul quotes

The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
  View quote | Benchley, Robert quotes

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up, because by that time I was too famous.
  View quote | Benchley, Robert quotes

The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon.
  View quote | Benchley, Robert quotes

Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.
  View quote | Benjamin, Walter quotes

I was an only child. I lost both my parents. By the time I was twenty I was bald. I'm homosexual. In the way of circumstances and background to transcend I had everything an artist could possibly want. It was practically a blueprint. I was programmed to be a novelist or a playwright. But I'm not.
  View quote | Bennett, Alan quotes

Essential characteristic of the really great novelist: a Christ-like, all-embracing compassion.
  View quote | Bennett, Arnold quotes

Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.
  View quote | Berger, Thomas quotes

A writer never reads his work. For him, it is the unreadable, a secret, and he cannot remain face to face with it. A secret, because he is separated from it.
  View quote | Blanchot, Maurice quotes

To write is to make oneself the echo of what cannot cease speaking -- and since it cannot, in order to become its echo I have, in a way, to silence it. I bring to this incessant speech the decisiveness, the authority of my own silence.
  View quote | Blanchot, Maurice quotes

No one who cannot limit himself has ever been able to write.
  View quote | Boileau, Nicholas quotes

He who cannot limit himself will never know how to write.
  View quote | Boileau, Nicholas quotes

Like all writers, he measured the achievements of others by what they had accomplished, asking of them that they measure him by what he envisaged or planned.
  View quote | Borges, Jorge Luis quotes

Every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.
  View quote | Borges, Jorge Luis quotes

A book should be luminous not voluminous.
  View quote | Bovee, Christian Nevell quotes

Writers seldom choose as friends those self-contained characters who are never in trouble, never unhappy or ill, never make mistakes, and always count their change when it is handed to them.
  View quote | Bowen, Catherine Drinker quotes

For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.
  View quote | Bowen, Catherine Drinker quotes

Every writing career starts as a personal quest for sainthood, for self-betterment. Sooner or later, and as a rule quite soon, a man discovers that his pen accomplishes a lot more than his soul.
  View quote | Brodsky, Joseph quotes

But this I know; the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master -- something that at times strangely wills and works for itself. If the result be attractive, the World will praise you, who little deserve praise; if it be repulsive, the same World will blame you, who almost as little deserve blame.
  View quote | Bronte, Charlotte quotes

Great writers are the saints for the godless.
  View quote | Brookner, Anita quotes

Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under his skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities and have them relate to other characters living with him.
  View quote | Brooks, Mel quotes

The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life: try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate!
  View quote | Browning, Robert quotes

Making a book is a craft, like making a clock; it needs more than native wit to be an author.
  View quote | Bruyere, Jean De La quotes

Writers are the main landmarks of the past.
  View quote | Bulwer-Lytton, Edward G. quotes

The pen is mightier than the sword.
  View quote | Bulwer-Lytton, Edward G. quotes

Writing is more than anything a compulsion, like some people wash their hands thirty times a day for fear of awful consequences if they do not. It pays a whole lot better than this type of compulsion, but it is no more heroic.
  View quote | Burchill, Julie quotes

The trouble began with Forster. After him it was considered ungentlemanly to write more than five or six novels.
  View quote | Burgess, Anthony quotes

The only living works are those which have drained much of the author's own life into them.
  View quote | Butler, Samuel quotes

Nothing so fretful, so despicable as a Scribbler, see what I am, and what a parcel of Scoundrels I have brought about my ears, and what language I have been obliged to treat them with to deal with them in their own way; -- all this comes of Authorship.
  View quote | Byron, Lord quotes

To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.
  View quote | Byron, Lord quotes

In general I do not draw well with literary men -- not that I dislike them but I never know what to say to them after I have praised their last publication.
  View quote | Byron, Lord quotes

If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad. As to that regular, uninterrupted love of writing. I do not understand it. I feel it as a torture, which I must get rid of, but never as a pleasure. On the contrary, I think composition a great pain.
  View quote | Byron, Lord quotes

The process of writing has something infinite about it. Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.
  View quote | Canetti, Elias quotes

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.
  View quote | Capote, Truman quotes

Writing is a dreadful labor, yet not so dreadful as Idleness.
  View quote | Carlyle, Thomas quotes

To note an artist's limitations is but to define his talent. A reporter can write equally well about everything that is presented to his view, but a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his deepest sympathies.
  View quote | Cather, Willa quotes

Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand -- a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods -- or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values.
  View quote | Cather, Willa quotes

An author is often obscure to the reader because they proceed from the thought to expression than like the reader from the expression to the thought.
  View quote | Chamfort, Sebastien-Roch Nicolas De quotes

There is something about the literary life that repels me, all this desperate building of castles on cobwebs, the long-drawn acrimonious struggle to make something important which we all know will be gone forever in a few years, the miasma of failure which is to me almost as offensive as the cheap gaudiness of popular success.
  View quote | Chandler, Raymond quotes

Any man who can write a page of living prose adds something to our life, and the man who can, as I can, is surely the last to resent someone who can do it even better. An artist cannot deny art, nor would he want to. A lover cannot deny love.
  View quote | Chandler, Raymond quotes

The task of an American writer is not to describe the misgivings of a woman taken in adultery as she looks out of a window at the rain but to describe four hundred people under the lights reaching for a foul ball. This is ceremony.
  View quote | Cheever, John quotes

Who often, but without success, have prayed for apt Alliteration's artful aid.
  View quote | Churchill, Charles quotes

Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.
  View quote | Churchill, Winston quotes

Nothing contributes to the entertainment of the reader more, than the change of times and the vicissitudes of fortune.
  View quote | Cicero, Marcus T. quotes

The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen.
  View quote | Colette, Sidonie Gabrielle quotes

If you want to be a writer-stop talking about it and sit down and write!
  View quote | Collins, Jackie quotes

To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author.
  View quote | Colton, Charles Caleb quotes

The society of dead authors has this advantage over that of the living: they never flatter us to our faces, nor slander us behind our backs, nor intrude upon our privacy, nor quit their shelves until we take them down.
  View quote | Colton, Charles Caleb quotes

Justice to my readers compels me to admit that I write because I have nothing to do; justice to myself induces me to add that I will cease to write the moment I have nothing to say.
  View quote | Colton, Charles Caleb quotes

A great writer creates a world of his own and his readers are proud to live in it. A lesser writer may entice them in for a moment, but soon he will watch them filing out.
  View quote | Connolly, Cyril quotes

The more books we read, the clearer it becomes that the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence.
  View quote | Connolly, Cyril quotes

When writers meet they are truculent, indifferent, or over-polite. Then comes the inevitable moment. A shows B that he has read something of B s. Will B show A? If not, then A hates B, if yes, then all is well. The only other way for writers to meet is to share a quick pee over a common lamp-post.
  View quote | Connolly, Cyril quotes

In most cases a favorite writer is more with us in his book than he ever could have been in the flesh; since, being a writer, he is one who has studied and perfected this particular mode of personal incarnation, very likely to the detriment of any other. I should like as a matter of curiosity to see and hear for a moment the men whose works I admire; but I should hardly expect to find further intercourse particularly profitable.
  View quote | Cooley, Charles Horton quotes

Let authors write for glory and reward. The truth is well paid when she is sung and heard.
  View quote | Corbett, James J. quotes

If you describe things as better than they are, you are considered to be a romantic; if you describe things as worse than they are, you will be called a realist; and if you describe things exactly as they are, you will be thought of as a satirist.
  View quote | Crisp, Quentin quotes

There are hardly half a dozen writers in England today who have not sold out to the enemy. Even when their good work has been a success, Mammon grips them and whispers: More money for more work.
  View quote | Crowley, Aleister quotes

Herman Melville was as separated from a civilized literature as the lost Atlantis was said to have been from the great peoples of the earth.
  View quote | Dahlberg, Edward quotes

To write is a humiliation.
  View quote | Dahlberg, Edward quotes

What has a writer to be bombastic about? Whatever good a man may write is the consequence of accident, luck, or surprise, and nobody is more surprised than an honest writer when he makes a good phrase or says something truthful.
  View quote | Dahlberg, Edward quotes

Writing is conscience, scruple, and the farming of our ancestors.
  View quote | Dahlberg, Edward quotes

I think of an author as somebody who goes into the marketplace and puts down his rug and says, I will tell you a story, and then he passes the hat.
  View quote | Davies, Robertson quotes

The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or to say a new thing in an old way.
  View quote | Davis, Richard Harding quotes

Writing isn't hard. It isn't any harder than ditch-digging.
  View quote | Dennis, Patrick quotes

Writers are always selling somebody out.
  View quote | Didion, Joan quotes

An author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.
  View quote | Disraeli, Benjamin quotes

The writer isn't made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.
  View quote | Doctorow, E. L. quotes

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.
  View quote | Doctorow, E. L. quotes

Writing is turning one's worst moments into money.
  View quote | Donleavy, J. P. quotes

Yes, it's hard to write, but it's harder not to.
  View quote | Doren, Carl Van quotes

The first essential in writing about anything is that the writer should have no experience of the matter.
  View quote | Duncan, Isadora quotes

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
  View quote | Dyer, Wayne quotes

Of the creative spirits that flourished in Concord, Massachusetts, during the middle of the nineteenth century, it might be said that Hawthorne loved men but felt estranged from them, Emerson loved ideas even more than men, and Thoreau loved himself.
  View quote | Edel, Leon quotes

I have the conviction that excessive literary production is a social offence.
  View quote | Eliot, George quotes

Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.
  View quote | Eliot, T. S. quotes

Writing a novel without being asked seems a bit like having a baby when you have nowhere to live.
  View quote | Ellman, Lucy quotes

There is no luck in literary reputation. They who make up the final verdict upon every book are not the partial and noisy readers of the hour when it appears; but a court as of angels, a public not to be bribed, not to be entreated, and not to be overawed, decides upon every man's title to fame.
  View quote | Emerson, Ralph Waldo quotes

A pathological business, writing, don't you think? Just look what a writer actually does: all that unnatural tense squatting and hunching, all those rituals: pathological!
  View quote | Enzensberger, Hans Magnus quotes

If you wish to be a writer; write!
  View quote | Epictetus quotes

Mr. Faulkner, of course, is interested in making your mind rather than your flesh creep.
  View quote | Fadiman, Cliff quotes

There are two kinds of writers; the great ones who can give you truths, and the lessor ones, who can only give you themselves.
  View quote | Fadiman, Cliff quotes

The first thing an unpublished author should remember is that no one asked him to write in the first place. With this firmly in mind, he has no right to become discouraged just because other people are being published.
  View quote | Farrar, John quotes

If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoevski, all of us.
  View quote | Faulkner, William quotes

I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it.
  View quote | Faulkner, William quotes

If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.
  View quote | Faulkner, William quotes

The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.
  View quote | Faulkner, William quotes

My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.
  View quote | Faulkner, William quotes

Life cannot defeat a writer who is in love with writing; for life itself is a writer's love until death.
  View quote | Ferber, Edna quotes

Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!
  View quote | Ferber, Edna quotes

Writers should be read but not seen. Rarely are they a winsome sight.
  View quote | Ferber, Edna quotes

Creative writers are always greater than the causes that they represent.
  View quote | Forster, Edward M. quotes

The best way to become a successful writer is to read good writing, remember it, and then forget where you remember it from.
  View quote | Fowler, Gene quotes

Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
  View quote | Fowler, Gene quotes

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
  View quote | Franklin, Benjamin quotes

Our work is to present things that are as they are.
  View quote | Frederick The Great, (Frederick II) quotes

Analogies, it is true, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home.
  View quote | Freud, Sigmund quotes

The walls are the publishers of the poor.
  View quote | Galeano, Eduardo quotes

The style of an author should be the image of his mind, but the choice and command of language is the fruit of exercise.
  View quote | Gibbon, Edward quotes

It has always been my practice to cast a long paragraph in a single mould, to try it by my ear, to deposit it in my memory, but to suspend the action of the pen till I had given the last polish to my work.
  View quote | Gibbon, Edward quotes

If any man wishes to write a clear style, let him first be clear in his thoughts.
  View quote | Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von quotes

Every author in some degree portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.
  View quote | Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von quotes

He who does not expect a million readers should not write a line.
  View quote | Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von quotes

The writer probably knows what he meant when he wrote a book, but he should immediately forget what he meant when he's written it.
  View quote | Golding, William quotes

You can fire your secretary, divorce your spouse, abandon your children. But they remain your co-authors forever.
  View quote | Goodman, Ellen quotes

A writer should be a joyous optimist. Anything that implies rejection of life is wrong for a writer.
  View quote | Gribbon, George quotes

I don't regard Brecht as a man of iron-gray purpose and intellect, I think he is a theatrical whore of the first quality.
  View quote | Hall, Sir Peter quotes

Whatever an author puts between the two covers of his book is public property; whatever of himself he does not put there is his private property, as much as if he had never written a word.
  View quote | Hamilton, Gail quotes

If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.
  View quote | Handke, Peter quotes

The role of the writer is not simply to arrange Being according to his own lights; he must also serve as a medium to Being and remain open to its often unfathomable dictates. This is the only way the work can transcend its creator and radiate its meaning further than the author himself can see or perceive.
  View quote | Havel, Vaclav quotes

The characteristic of Chaucer is intensity: of Spencer, remoteness: of Milton elevation and of Shakespeare everything.
  View quote | Hazlitt, William quotes

They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.
  View quote | Hellman, Lillian quotes

If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.
  View quote | Hellman, Lillian quotes

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

They can't yank a novelist like they can a pitcher. A novelist has to go the full nine, even if it kills him.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
  View quote | Hemingway, Ernest quotes

Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure.
  View quote | Herford, Oliver quotes

The older author is constantly rediscovering himself in the more or less fossilized productions of his earlier years.
  View quote | Holmes, Oliver Wendell quotes

You who write, choose a subject suited to your abilities and think long and hard on what your powers are equal to and what they are unable to perform.
  View quote | Horace quotes

You must often make erasures if you mean to write what is worthy of being read a second time; and don't labor for the admiration of the crowd, but be content with a few choice readers.
  View quote | Horace quotes

The secret of all good writing is sound judgment.
  View quote | Horace quotes

One gains universal applause who mingles the useful with the agreeable, at once delighting and instructing the reader.
  View quote | Horace quotes

Good sense is both the first principal and the parent source of good writing.
  View quote | Horace quotes

Let your literary compositions be kept from the public eye for nine years.
  View quote | Horace quotes

The strokes of the pen need deliberation as much as the sword needs swiftness.
  View quote | Howe, Julia Ward quotes

A writer and nothing else; a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right.
  View quote | Hutchens, John K. quotes

I am always at a loss at how much to believe of my own stories.
  View quote | Irving, Washington quotes

He is outside of everything, and alien everywhere. He is an aesthetic solitary. His beautiful, light imagination is the wing that on the autumn evening just brushes the dusky window.
  View quote | James, Henry quotes

I hold any writer sufficiently justified who is himself in love with his theme.
  View quote | James, Henry quotes

Footnotes -- little dogs yapping at the heels of the text
  View quote | James, William quotes

Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.
  View quote | Johnson, Samuel quotes

I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.
  View quote | Johnson, Samuel quotes

In all pointed sentences, some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.
  View quote | Johnson, Samuel quotes

The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.
  View quote | Johnson, Samuel quotes

Never write anything that does not give you great pleasure. Emotion is easily transferred from the writer to the reader.
  View quote | Joubert, Joseph quotes

No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.
  View quote | Joyce, James quotes

Writing is the incurable itch that possesses many.
  View quote | Juvenal, (Decimus Junius Juvenalis) quotes

I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.
  View quote | Kesey, Ken quotes

The moving finger writes, and having written moves on. Nor all thy piety nor all thy wit, can cancel half a line of it.
  View quote | Khayyam, Omar quotes

People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them that I have the heart of a small boy -- and I keep it in a jar on my desk.
  View quote | King, Stephen quotes

I believe that it is my job not only to write books but to have them published. A book is like a child. You have to defend the life of a child.
  View quote | Konrad, George quotes

This is something that I cannot get over -- that a whole line could be written by half a man, that a work could be built on the quicksand of a character.
  View quote | Kraus, Karl quotes

A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.
  View quote | Kraus, Karl quotes

It requires more than mere genius to be an author.
  View quote | La Bruyere, Jean De quotes

The writing of the wise are the only riches our posterity cannot squander.
  View quote | Landor, Walter Savage quotes

I hate the actor and audience business. An author should be in among the crowd, kicking their shins or cheering them on to some mischief or merriment.
  View quote | Lawrence, D. H. quotes

I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze.
  View quote | Lawrence, D. H. quotes

It's hard enough to write a good drama, it's much harder to write a good comedy, and it's hardest of all to write a drama with comedy. Which is what life is.
  View quote | Lemmon, Jack quotes

The cure for writers cramp is writer's block.
  View quote | Leon, Inigo de quotes

The only phenomenon with which writing has always been concomitant is the creation of cities and empires, that is the integration of large numbers of individuals into a political system, and their grading into castes or classes. It seems to have favored the exploitation of human beings rather than their enlightenment.
  View quote | Levi-Strauss, Claude quotes

We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.
  View quote | Lewis, Cecil Day quotes

As I take up my pen I feel myself so full, so equal to my subject, and see my book so clearly before me in embryo, I would almost like to try to say it all in a single word.
  View quote | Lichtenberg, Georg C. quotes

Nowadays three witty turns of phrase and a lie make a writer.
  View quote | Lichtenberg, Georg C. quotes

I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.
  View quote | Liebling, A. J. quotes

I think it's bad to talk about one's present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act. It discharges the tension.
  View quote | Mailer, Norman quotes

Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.
  View quote | Mailer, Norman quotes

The writer's language is to some degree the product of his own action; he is both the historian and the agent of his own language.
  View quote | Man, Paul De quotes

The ambivalence of writing is such that it can be considered both an act and an interpretive process that follows after an act with which it cannot coincide. As such, it both affirms and denies its own nature.
  View quote | Man, Paul De quotes

Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood.
  View quote | Marquez, Gabriel Garcia quotes

I never think when I write. Nobody can do two things at the same time and do them well.
  View quote | Marquis, Don quotes

If written directions alone would suffice, libraries wouldn't need to have the rest of the universities attached.
  View quote | Martin, Judith quotes

Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book, and does.
  View quote | Marx, Groucho quotes

The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.
  View quote | Marx, Karl quotes

It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer.
  View quote | Maugham, W. Somerset quotes

The trouble with young writers is that they are all in their sixties.
  View quote | Maugham, W. Somerset quotes

The writer is more concerned to know than to judge.
  View quote | Maugham, W. Somerset quotes

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
  View quote | Maugham, W. Somerset quotes

Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.
  View quote | Maugham, W. Somerset quotes

The need to express oneself in writing springs from a mal-adjustment to life, or from an inner conflict which the adolescent (or the grown man) cannot resolve in action. Those to whom action comes as easily as breathing rarely feel the need to break loose from the real, to rise above, and describe it... I do not mean that it is enough to be maladjusted to become a great writer, but writing is, for some, a method of resolving a conflict, provided they have the necessary talent.
  View quote | Maurois, Andre quotes

You enter a state of controlled passivity, you relax your grip and accept that even if your declared intention is to justify the ways of God to man, you might end up interesting your readers rather more in Satan.
  View quote | Mcewan, Ian quotes

You expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analogous to a good country breakfast: what we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination. Hold the philosophy, hold the adjectives, just give us a plain subject and verb and perhaps a wholesome, nonfattening adverb or two.
  View quote | Mcmurtry, Larry quotes

Give me a condor's quill! Give me Vesuvius crater for an inkstand!
  View quote | Melville, Herman quotes

I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved which a cow enjoys on giving milk.
  View quote | Mencken, H. L. quotes

Writing crystallizes thought and thought produces action.
  View quote | Meyer, Paul J. quotes

I was brought up in the great tradition of the late nineteenth century: that a writer never complains, never explains and never disdains.
  View quote | Michener, James A. quotes

I am always interested in why young people become writers, and from talking with many I have concluded that most do not want to be writers working eight and ten hours a day and accomplishing little; they want to have been writers, garnering the rewards of having completed a best-seller. They aspire to the rewards of writing but not to the travail.
  View quote | Michener, James A. quotes

Although most of us know Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Paul Gauguin in Tahiti as if they were neighbors -- somewhat disreputable but endlessly fascinating -- none of us can name two French generals or department store owners of that period. I take enormous pride in considering myself an artist, one of the necessaries.
  View quote | Michener, James A. quotes

After all, most writing is done away from the typewriter, away from the desk. I'd say it occurs in the quiet, silent moments, while you're walking or shaving or playing a game, or whatever, or even talking to someone you're not vitally interested in.
  View quote | Miller, Henry quotes

A man writes to throw off the poison which he has accumulated because of his false way of life. He is trying to recapture his innocence, yet all he succeeds in doing (by writing) is to inoculate the world with a virus of his disillusionment. No man would set a word down on paper if he had the courage to live out what he believed in.
  View quote | Miller, Henry quotes

Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.
  View quote | Miller, Olin quotes

Let those who would write heroic poems make their life an heroic poem.
  View quote | Milton, John quotes

I always write a good first line, but I have trouble in writing the others.
  View quote | Moliere quotes

All the world knows me in my book, and may book in me.
  View quote | Montaigne, Michel Eyquem De quotes

Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.
  View quote | Morrison, Edmund quotes

Of course I'm a black writer. I'm not just a black writer, but categories like black writer, woman writer and Latin American writer aren't marginal anymore. We have to acknowledge that the thing we call literature is more pluralistic now, just as society ought to be. The melting pot never worked. We ought to be able to accept on equal terms everybody from the Hasidim to Walter Lippmann, from the Rastafarians to Ralph Bunche.
  View quote | Morrison, Toni quotes

The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yogurt.
  View quote | Mortimer, John quotes

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.
  View quote | Murdoch, Iris quotes

Style and Structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.
  View quote | Nabokov, Vladimir quotes

I'm the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.
  View quote | Naipaul, V. S. quotes

The only way out is the way through, just as you cannot escape from death except by dying. Being unable to write, you must examine in writing this being unable, which becomes for the present -- henceforth? -- the subject to which you are condemned.
  View quote | Nemerov, Howard quotes

To be a good diarist, one must have a snouty, sneaky mind.
  View quote | Nicolson, Harold quotes

Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his own blood.
  View quote | Nietzsche, Friedrich quotes

A writer is a person who has solutions for which there are no riddles.
  View quote | Nunn, Gregory quotes

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
  View quote | O'Connor, Flannery quotes

Good novels are not written by orthodoxy-sniffers, nor by people who are conscience-stricken about their own orthodoxy. Good novels are written by people who are not frightened.
  View quote | Orwell, George quotes

All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
  View quote | Orwell, George quotes

For a creative writer possession of the truth is less important than emotional sincerity.
  View quote | Orwell, George quotes

He is a man of thirty-five, but looks fifty. He is bald, has varicose veins and wears spectacles, or would wear them if his only pair were not chronically lost. If things are normal with him, he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak, he will be suffering from a hangover. At present it is half past eleven in the morning, and according to his schedule he should have started work two hours ago; but even if he had made any serious effort to start he would have been frustrated by the almost continuous ringing of the telephone bell, the yells of the baby, the rattle of an electric drill out in the street, and the heavy boots of his creditors clumping up the stairs. The most recent interruption was the arrival of the second post, which brought him two circulars and an income tax demand printed in red. Needless to say this person is a writer.
  View quote | Orwell, George quotes

One reason writers write is out of revenge. Life hurts; certain ideas and experiences hurt; one wants to clarify, to set out illuminations, to replay the old bad scenes and get the Treppenworte said -- the words one didn't have the strength or ripeness to say when those words were necessary for one's dignity or survival.
  View quote | Ozick, Cynthia quotes

If you're going to write, don't pretend to write down. It's going to be the best you can do, and it's the fact that it's the best you can do that kills you.
  View quote | Parker, Dorothy quotes

If I had more time I would write a shorter letter.
  View quote | Pascal, Blaise quotes

The last thing we decide in writing a book is what to put first.
  View quote | Pascal, Blaise quotes

Writers, you know, are the beggars of Western society.
  View quote | Paz, Octavio quotes

Good writing excites me, and makes life worth living.
  View quote | Pinter, Harold quotes

I would love to spend all my time writing to you; I'd love to share with you all that goes through my mind, all that weighs on my heart, all that gives air to my soul; phantoms of art, dreams that would be so beautiful if they could come true.
  View quote | Pirandello, Luigi quotes

Most authors steal their works, or buy.
  View quote | Pope, Alexander quotes

Ten censure wrong, for one that writes amiss.
  View quote | Pope, Alexander quotes

Why did I write? What sin to me unknown dipped me in ink, my parents , or my own?
  View quote | Pope, Alexander quotes

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learned to dance. 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence. The sound must seem an echo to the sense.
  View quote | Pope, Alexander quotes

Good authors, too, who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose... anything goes.
  View quote | Porter, Cole quotes

Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.
  View quote | Pound, Ezra quotes

Nothing written for pay is worth printing. Only what has been written against the market.
  View quote | Pound, Ezra quotes

I perceived that to express those impressions, to write that essential book, which is the only true one, a great writer does not, in the current meaning of the word, invent it, but, since it exists already in each one of us, interprets it. The duty and the task of a writer are those of an interpreter.
  View quote | Proust, Marcel quotes

Great writers arrive among us like new diseases -- threatening, powerful, impatient for patients to pick up their virus, irresistible.
  View quote | Raine, Craig quotes

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.
  View quote | Rascoe, Burton quotes

Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately-many people will help you unintentionally.
  View quote | Rau, Santha Rama quotes

Make em laugh; make em cry; make em wait.
  View quote | Reade, Charles quotes

To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.
  View quote | Rice, Anne quotes

Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it's about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.
  View quote | Richler, Mordecai quotes

Never write on a subject until you have read yourself full of it.
  View quote | Richter, Jean Paul quotes

A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved. And that perhaps, is what makes him different from others.
  View quote | Rosten, Leo quotes

Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.
  View quote | Rosten, Leo quotes

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it.
  View quote | Rosten, Leo quotes

Whores and writers, Mahound. We are the people you can't forgive.
  View quote | Rushdie, Salman quotes

Writers and politicians are natural rivals. Both groups try to make the world in their own images; they fight for the same territory.
  View quote | Rushdie, Salman quotes

I make no complaint. I am a writer. I do not accept my condition; I will strive to change it; but I inhabit it, I am trying to learn from it.
  View quote | Rushdie, Salman quotes

Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one.
  View quote | Rushdie, Salman quotes

It is excellent discipline for an author to feel that he must say all that he has to say in the fewest possible words, or his readers is sure to skip them.
  View quote | Ruskin, John quotes

I am paid by the word, so I always write the shortest words possible.
  View quote | Russell, Bertrand quotes

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. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind.
  View quote | Sackville-West, Vita quotes

Writing is a question of finding a certain rhythm. I compare it to the rhythms of jazz. Much of the time life is a sort of rhythmic progression of three characters. If one tells oneself that life is like that, one feels it less arbitrary.
  View quote | Sagan, Francoise quotes

The trade of authorship is a violent, and indestructible obsession.
  View quote | Sand, George quotes

Writing is to descend like a miner to the depths of the mine with a lamp on your forehead, a light whose dubious brightness falsifies everything, whose wick is in permanent danger of explosion, whose blinking illumination in the coal dust exhausts and corrodes your eyes.
  View quote | Sauser, Blaise Cendrars quotes

When an author is too meticulous about his style, you may presume that his mind is frivolous and his content flimsy.
  View quote | Seneca quotes

The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.
  View quote | Shaw, George Bernard quotes

You must not suppose, because I am a man of letters, that I never tried to earn an honest living.
  View quote | Shaw, George Bernard quotes

I cringe when critics say I'm a master of the popular novel. What's an unpopular novel?
  View quote | Shaw, Irwin quotes

Easy writings curse is hard reading.
  View quote | Sheridan, Richard Brinsley quotes

Thus, with child to speak, and helpless in my throes, biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: Fool! said my muse to me, look in thy heart, and write.
  View quote | Sidney, Sir Philip quotes

Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness.
  View quote | Simenon, Georges quotes

A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind.
  View quote | Singer, Isaac Bashevis quotes

Paper and ink are all but trash, if I cannot find the thought which the writer did think.
  View quote | Smith, Dr. Walter quotes

What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers.
  View quote | Smith, Logan Pearsall quotes

Whiskey has killed more men than bullets, but most men would rather be full of whiskey than bullets. What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.
  View quote | Smith, Logan Pearsall quotes

Agatha Christie has given more pleasure in bed than any other woman.
  View quote | Smith, Nancy Banks quotes

The writer does the most good who gives his reader the most knowledge and takes from him the least time.
  View quote | Smith, Sydney quotes

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.
  View quote | Socrates quotes

Writing is the continuation of politics by other means.
  View quote | Sollers, Philippe quotes

For a country to have a great writer is like having another government. That's why no régime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.
  View quote | Solzhenitsyn, Alexander quotes

The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent, guilt-ridden one; or both. Usually both.
  View quote | Sontag, Susan quotes

The best emotions to write out of are anger and fear or dread. The least energizing emotion to write out of is admiration. It is very difficult to write out of because the basic feeling that goes with admiration is a passive contemplative mood.
  View quote | Sontag, Susan quotes

Writers are a little below the clowns and a little above the trained seals.
  View quote | Steinbeck, John quotes

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
  View quote | Steinbeck, John quotes

The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.
  View quote | Steinbeck, John quotes

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.
  View quote | Steinem, Gloria quotes

What you're trying to do when you write is to crowd the reader out of his own space and occupy it with yours, in a good cause. You're trying to take over his sensibility and deliver an experience that moves from mere information.
  View quote | Stone, Robert quotes

What an occupation! To sit and flay your fellow men and then offer their skins for sale and expect them to buy them.
  View quote | Strindberg, J. August quotes

Let's face it, writing is hell.
  View quote | Styron, William quotes

O Grub Street! how do I bemoan thee, whose graceless children scorn to own thee! . Yet thou hast greater cause to be ashamed of them, than they of thee.
  View quote | Swift, Jonathan quotes

Style may defined as the proper words in the proper places.
  View quote | Swift, Jonathan quotes

As a man has no right to kill one of his children if it is diseased or insane, so a man who has made the gradual and conscious expression of his personality in literature the aim of his life, has no right to suppress himself any carefully considered work which seemed good enough when it was written. Suppression, if it is deserved, will come rapidly enough from the same causes that suppress the unworthy members of a man's family.
  View quote | Synge, J. M. quotes

The two most engaging powers of a good author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.
  View quote | Thackeray, William M. quotes

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.
  View quote | Thoreau, Henry David quotes

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
  View quote | Thoreau, Henry David quotes

Some American writers who have known each other for years have never met in the daytime or when both were sober.
  View quote | Thurber, James quotes

When all things are equal, translucence in writing is more effective than transparency, just as glow is more revealing than glare.
  View quote | Thurber, James quotes

A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul.
  View quote | Tolstoy, Count Leo quotes

No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake. Loose ends, things unrelated, shifts, nightmare journeys, cities arrived at and left, meetings, desertions, betrayals, all manner of unions, adulteries, triumphs, defeats... these are the facts.
  View quote | Trocchi, Alexander quotes

Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are economical in its use.
  View quote | Twain, Mark quotes

Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.
  View quote | Twain, Mark quotes

As to the adjective, when in doubt strike it out.
  View quote | Twain, Mark quotes

Often I think writing is a sheer paring away of oneself leaving always something thinner, barer, more meager.
  View quote | Unknown, Source quotes

My idea is always to reach my generation. The wise writer writes for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward.
  View quote | Unknown, Source quotes

An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterwards.
  View quote | Unknown, Source quotes

All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
  View quote | Unknown, Source quotes

Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves -- that's the truth. We have two or three great moving experiences in our lives -- experiences so great and moving that it doesn't seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before.
  View quote | Unknown, Source quotes

You don't write because you want to say something; you write because you've got something to say.
  View quote | Unknown, Source quotes

Writing is simple. First you have to make sure you have plenty of paper... sharp pencils... typewriter ribbon. Then put your belly up to your desk... roll a sheet of paper into the typewriter... and stare at it until beads of blood appear on your forehead.
  View quote | Unknown, Source quotes

Writers aren't people exactly. Or, if they're any good, they're a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person. It's like actors, who try so pathetically not to look in mirrors. Who lean back ward trying -- only to see their faces in the reflecting chandeliers.
  View quote | Unknown, Source quotes

Many writers who choose to be active in the world lose not virtue but time, and that stillness without which literature cannot be made.
  View quote | Vidal, Gore quotes

Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players, and Tennessee Williams has about 5, and Samuel Beckett one -- and maybe a clone of that one. I have 10 or so, and that's a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.
  View quote | Vidal, Gore quotes

Most bad books get that way because their authors are engaged in trying to justify themselves. If a vain author is an alcoholic, then the most sympathetically portrayed character in his book will be an alcoholic. This sort of thing is very boring for outsiders.
  View quote | Vizinczey, Stephen quotes

You can never correct your work well until you have forgotten it.
  View quote | Voltaire quotes

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.
  View quote | Vorse, Mary Heaton quotes

I love being a writer, what I can't stand is the paperwork.
  View quote | Vries, Peter De quotes

Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.
  View quote | Walker, Alice quotes

Every drop of ink in my pen ran cold.
  View quote | Walpole, Horace quotes

Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.
  View quote | Wesley, John quotes

Good writing is clear thinking made visible.
  View quote | Wheeler, Bill quotes

Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.
  View quote | White, E(lwyn) B(rooks) quotes

In a sense the world dies every time a writer dies, because, if he is any good, he has been a wet nurse to humanity during his entire existence and has held earth close around him, like the little obstetrical toad that goes about with a cluster of eggs attached to his legs.
  View quote | White, E(lwyn) B(rooks) quotes

Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.
  View quote | Wiesel, Elie quotes

This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.
  View quote | Wilde, Oscar quotes

From the point of view of literature Mr. Kipling is a genius who drops his aspirates. From the point of view of life, he is a reporter who knows vulgarity better than any one has ever known it.
  View quote | Wilde, Oscar quotes

His style is chaos illumined by flashes of lightning. As a writer he has mastered everything except language.
  View quote | Wilde, Oscar quotes

The future author is one who discovers that language, the exploration and manipulation of the resources of language, will serve him in winning through to his way.
  View quote | Wilder, Thornton quotes

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
  View quote | Woolf, Virginia quotes

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.
  View quote | Woolf, Virginia quotes

I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old: but now I am a woman again -- as I always am when I write.
  View quote | Woolf, Virginia quotes

We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.
  View quote | Woolf, Virginia quotes

The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart, given surnames and Christian names, and sent to walk the earth.
  View quote | Yeats, William Butler quotes

Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.
  View quote | Zinsser, William quotes

Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity.
  View quote | Zinsser, William quotes

Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.
  View quote | Zinsser, William quotes

Writing is thinking on paper.
  View quote | Zinsser, William quotes

Writing is a craft not an art.
  View quote | Zinsser, William quotes