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My 25 Favorite Quotes about Writing

December 17, 2014
Citing famous quotes is one of the best ways to appear witty, sophisticated and eloquent while simultaneously helping you fill the space of a blog post without having to do very much work. As an added bonus, most people love to hear/read famous quotes, so everybody wins.

Below are my all-time 25 favorite quotes about writing – from writers who are renowned not only for their craft but also for not having to rely on the quotes of others to appear witty, sophisticated and eloquent:

1) “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” –W. Somerset Maugham

2) “Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” –William S. Burroughs

3) “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” –Ernest Hemingway

4) “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

5) “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” –Muriel Rukeyser

6) “I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.” –Roald Dahl

7) “The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” –Robert Benchley

8) “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” –Harper Lee

9) "Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers." –T.S. Eliot

10) “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” –Robert A. Heinlein

11) “I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.” –Patrick Dennis

12) “Get your facts first then you may distort them as you please.” –Mark Twain

13) “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” –Mark Twain

14) “The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.” –Andre Gide

15) “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” –Annie Dillard

16) “I almost always urge people to write in the first person. …Writing is an act of ego and you might as well admit it.” –William Zinsser

17) “Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.” –Ray Bradbury

18) “You don’t have to say everything to say something.” –Beth Moore

19) “Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté." –Margaret Atwood

20) “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite – getting something down.” –Julia Cameron

21) “Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.” –Virginia Woolf

22) “Good human beings save the world so that bastards like me can keep creating art, become immortal. If you read this after I am dead, it means I made it.” –Charles Bukowski

23) “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.” –Elmore Leonard

24) “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” –Madeleine L'Engle

25) “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." –Franz Kafka

Now it’s YOUR turn to seem witty, sophisticated and eloquent. What are some of your favorite quotes about writing, or about books/literature in general? Feel free to share them in the ‘Comments’ section below. (If you can’t think of any brilliant quotes, you are welcome to cite something I said in one of my previous blog posts.)


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