Monday, August 27, 2018

The Best Quotes on Writing

I dislike the many online articles and blog posts that offer a list of dos and don'ts on writing. They are nothing but click bait or shortcuts to the real work of writing. These are the ones that tell you to "start with action," or "show, don't tell," or the "ten rules of writing a novel." They are a disservice to the work, a disservice to the art, a disservice to you as a writer. Are there best practices? Of course. But good writing is not about rules and formulas.


I might not like the articles that tell you to "do these ten things to write a winning novel," but I do love the quotes by writers that suggest a path to follow. Those little clips, sound bites (if you will) of inspiration and support are wonderful.

What are your favorites? Share them in the comments. These are mine.

Here we go...

"The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress." - Philip Roth

"Style is to forget all styles." - Jules Renard

"Genius gives birth, talent delivers. What Rembrandt or Van Gogh saw in the night can never be seen again. Born writers of the future are amazed already at what they’re seeing now, what we’ll all see in time for the first time, and then see imitated many times by made writers.” - Jack Kerouac

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.” - Ernest Hemingway
"To gain your own voice, you must forget about having it heard." - Allen Ginsberg

"Writing means sharing. It's part of the human condition to share things - thoughts, ideas, opinions." - Paul Coehlo

"Writing if an act of faith, not a trick of grammar." - E.B. White

"Art is never finished, only abandoned." - Leonardo da Vinci

"Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly." - Franz Kafka 

"I write entirely to find out what is on my mind. what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I'm seeing, and what it means." - Joan Didion

"I think there are a lot of similarities between writing and music. Music is much more direct and much more emotional and that's the level I want to be at when I'm writing." - Karl Ove Knausgaard

"Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little." - Holly Gerth

And one of my very favorites...

"Writing is the painting of the voice." - Voltaire

Got more?


  1. okay. I can only give you my own. The muse doesn't actually "visit". Much of art is elbow grease.

    1. Like it! It reminds me of what I’ve said. A condensed version of yours: “Just write.”

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

  3. "And let me always be grateful, Lord, that I am a writer, that I am actually doing the only work I've ever really wanted to do, and that I don't need anyone's permission to do it. Just something to write with and something to write on." Lawrence Block

    1. Any one of us who writes, opens up our hearts and souls, should be grateful for the chance to share our stories -- personal or fiction -- for they are all part of us in some way or another.

  4. "The first sentence can't be written until the final sentence is written." Joyce Carol Oates


  5. I like that, too. But I wonder, is that just for the "planner" style of writing? The two schools -- the planner and the "see where it goes" writer. I liked this piece in the Atlantic about that...THE CASE FOR WRITING A STORY BEFORE KNOWING HOW IT ENDS.

  6. "And allow me to continually be thankful, Head of the family, which i 'm the Articles writing , which i 'm really performing the only real function I have actually truly desired to perform, which We do not require a person's authorization to complete this. Simply some thing to create along with then one to create upon. inch Lawrence Prevent.

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