Writing Quotes

Alex Tizon Photo

• God made man because he loves stories. —Elie Wiesel

• Lord! When you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night—there’s all heaven and earth in a book, in a real book I mean. —Christopher Morley

• Man—let me offer you a definition—is the storytelling animal. Wherever he goes he wants to leave behind not a chaotic wake, not an empty space, but the comforting marker buoys and trail signs of stories. He has to keep on making them up. As long as there’s a story, it’s all right. Even in his last moments, it’s said, in the split second of a fatal fall—or when he’s about to drown—he sees, passing rapidly before him, the story of his whole life. —Graham Swift

• We live or die by the artist’s vision, sane or cracked. —John Gardner

• Writing is the geometry of the soul. —Plato

• Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are the same individual. —Arthur Koestler

• Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there. —Thomas Berger

• I wrote because I had to. I couldn’t stop. There wasn’t anything else I could do. —Tennessee Williams

• Clean white paper waiting under a pen is a gift beyond history and hurt and heaven. —John Giardi

• Get black on white. —Guy de Maupassant

• It’s a very excruciating life facing that blank piece of paper every day and having to reach up somewhere into the clouds and bring something down out of them. —Truman Capote

• Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. —E.L. Doctorow

• It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. —Gerald Brenon

• Ideas must work through the brains and arms of man, or they are no better than dreams. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

• How vain it is to sit down to write, when you have not stood up to live! —Henry David Thoreau

• Planning to write is not writing. Outlining … researching … talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing. —E.L. Doctorow

• Imagination is stronger than knowledge. Knowledge is limited,  imagination encircles the world. —Albert Einstein

• Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin. —Robert Collier

• Look in thy heart and write. —Sir Philip Sydney

• We all have the extraordinary coded within us, waiting to be released. —Jean Houston

• Struggle to trust what your unconscious is up to, no matter how bizarre, how forbidden, how complex. —Robert Burdette Sweet

• I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking … What I want, and what I fear. —Joan Didion

• One should never write down or up to people, but out of yourself. —Christopher Isherwood

• A writer is dear and necessary to us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul. —Leo Tolstoy

• Feelings, nothing more than feelings … —Morris Albert (lyricist of “Feelings”)

• Fear cannot be without hope nor hope without fear. —Spinoza

• Whoever is abandoned by hope has also been abandoned by fear; this is the meaning of the word ‘desperate.’ —Schopenhauer

• Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. —John Steinbeck

• We are our own devils; we drive ourselves out of our Edens. —Goethe

• The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes. —Marcel Proust

• The language of truth is simple. —Euripides

• To write simply is as difficult as to be good. —W. Somerset Maugham

• How forcible are right words! —Job 6:25

• A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword. —Robert Burton

• If there is a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. —Toni Morrison

• He that writes to himself writes to an eternal public. That statement only is fit to be made public which you have come at in attempting to satisfy your own curiosity. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

• Close the door. Write with no one looking over shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. —Barbara Kingsolver

• It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creation. Today, for example, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes. When I brood over these marvelous pleasures I have enjoyed, I would be tempted to offer God a prayer of thanks if I knew he could hear me. Praised may he be for not creating me a cotton merchant, a vaudevillian, or a wit. —Gustave Flaubert

• Words are loaded pistols. —Jean-Paul Sartre

• When I see a paragraph shrinking under my eyes like a strip of bacon in a skillet, I know I’m on the right track. —Peter de Vries

• When we encounter a natural style we are always surprised and delighted, for we thought to see an author and found a man. —Blaise Pascal

• If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. —Benjamin Franklin

• On the day when a young writer corrects his first proof sheets, he is as proud as a schoolboy who has just got his first dose of pox. —Charles Baudelaire

• Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. —Flannery O’Connor

• I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters. —Frank Lloyd Wright

• A novel should cater for the fact that life is mostly confusion, that most people’s inner sense is of not knowing, rather than knowing. —Graham Swift

• What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the larger sense that the writer is able to make of what happened. —Vivian Gornick

• Only a mediocre writer is always at his best. —W. Somerset Maugham

• Great novels are always a little more intelligent than their authors. —Milan Kundera

• Who is more real? Homer or Ulysses? Shakespeare or Hamlet? Burroughs or Tarzan?Robert A. Heinlein

• 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. —William Faulkner

• Bunyan spent a year in prison, Coleridge was a drug addict, Poe was an alcoholic, Marlowe was killed by a man he was trying to stab, Pope took a large sum of money to keep a woman’s name out of a vicious satire and then wrote it so that she could be recognized anyway, Chatterton killed himself, Somerset Maugham was so unhappy in his final years that he longed for death … do you still want to be a writer? —Bennet Cerf

• Everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. —Georges Simenon

• The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it. —Anaïs Nin

• Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. —Jules Renard

• Do we dare be ourselves? That is the question that counts. —Pablo Casals

• There’s no place where success comes before work, except in the dictionary. —Donald Kimball

• Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. —Samuel Beckett

• Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it. —Joseph Conrad

• The best way out is always through. —Robert Frost

• You can’t test courage cautiously. —Annie Dillard

• When a man’s fight begins within himself, he is worth something. —Robert Browning

• The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis. —William Styron

• One of the telling signs of genius and creative spirit is to embrace perceived ‘failures’ for the treasures of growth and wisdom they may bring us. —Elle Nicolaï

• It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time and one goes on steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything. —Virginia Woolf

• Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned. —Oscar Wilde

• I always know the ending; that’s where I start. —Toni Morrison


Photo credit: Michelle Chavez. Subject: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex Tizon, author of Little Big Man: In Search of My Asian Self.

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