43 Quotes on Writing by Writers

Whenever I look for inspiration, advice or a flicker of light to guide towards the motivation to write, I find no better place than in the words of writers. Here’s a list of my favorite quotes.

1. “The first draft of anything is shit.” – Earnest Hemingway

2. “It is perfectly okay to write garbage, as long as you edit brilliantly” – C.J. Cherryh

3. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson

4. “You can fix a bad page, you can’t fix a blank one.” – Nora Roberts

5. “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” – Anton Chekhov

6. “There’s a rule to writing: if everything is funny, nothing is funny, if everything is sad, nothing is sad. You want that contrast.” – J.Michael Straczynski

7. “When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable.” – Mark Twain

8. “Adjectives, like adverbs, are lazy words, slowpokes, tranquilizers. Watch out for them.” – Jack M. Bickham

9. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs” – Steven King

10. “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut


11. “Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks for you if courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly.” – Robert McKee

12. “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” – Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie


13. “You have to love writing, but more importantly, you have to love learning to write better.” – Jim Averback

14. “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” – Earnest Hemingway

15. “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 the window.” William Faulkner

16. “Three Rules for Literary Success: 1. Read a lot. 2. Write a lot. 3. Read a lot more, write a lot more.” – Robert Silverberg

17. “My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.” – Anaïs Nin

18. “Tears are words that need to be written.” – Paulo Coelho

19. “I find inspiration in many places. Sometimes music gives me the kernel of a story. Sometimes it’s dissatisfaction with the plot of a movie or book.” – Christopher Paolini

20. “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth


21. “All words are pegs to hang ideas on.” Henry Ward Beecher

22. “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” – Kurt Vonnegut

23. “There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

24. “When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are open to a wider world, where colors are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize.” – Madeleine L’Engle

25. “We write to embrace life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin


26. “Read to escape reality, write to embrace it.” – Stephanie Connolly

27. “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

28. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

29. “The problem is that bad writers tend to have the self confidence, when the good ones tend to have self doubt.” – Charles Bukowski

30. “That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what’s known as The Artist’s Reward.” – Ernest Hemingway

31. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau

32. “The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath


33. “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” – Franz Kafka

34. “The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried wile you where saying it.” – Steven King

35. “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand.” – Chinese Proverb

36. “I’m writing an unauthorized autobiography.” – Steven Wright

37.”Keep writing, speak truth and never mind the bollocks.” – Cullen Thomas

38. “Spontaneous is what you get after the 17th draft.” – John Ciardi
“Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.” – Lawrence Kasdan

39. “My attitude to writing is like when you do wallpapering, you remember where all the little bits are that don’t meet. And then your friends say: it’s terrific!” – Harrison Birtwhistle

40. “He asked, ‘What makes a man a writer?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it’s simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge’.” – Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski


41. “Writing is the mine shaft to the soul.” – Peter Baird

42. “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.” – Marsha Norman

43. “Writing is the only profession where nobody considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” – Thomas Mann

44. “Getting the words right.” – Earnest Hemingway (when asked what stumped him when re-writing the final page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times)