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70 Quotes About Writing: When Motivation and Guilt Collide

Writing - it's an art, it's a passion, and it's apparently something writers talk about. Like, a lot. Go figure!

Nothing gets my lazy backside into gear quite like perusing a fine selection of the quotes that result from a bunch of verbose people discussing the one thing that gives their lives intrinsic value - their work. "Oh God, oh no," I say to myself, scrambling for a pen, "this guy would be so disappointed in me right now. I'll never see my own quotes on Pinterest at this rate, and what's even the point if that doesn't happen by age 28?"

No, I'm not famous enough or interesting enough to have MY quotes plastered in creative fonts all over your boards, but my day will come. For now, I am a humble quote pirate, cruising the high seas for snippets of wisdom and humor that will fill your sails with motivation. Arrrr, matey.

Read on to peruse my fine collection of quotes about writing by writers who want to help writers write (and say that ten times fast, while you're at it).


"If a story is in you, it has got to come out." - William Faulkner
"If you don't see the book you want on the shelf, write it." - Beverly Cleary
"Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers." - Charles Bukowski
"When we write characters who are fighting both their circumstances and their own natures, we create characters who are instantly real. And, thus, instantly interesting." - K.M. Weiland
"Somebody gets into trouble, then gets out of it again. People love that story. They never get tired of it." - Kurt Vonnegut
"Writers see the world differently. Every voice we hear, every face we see, every hand we touch could become story fabric." - Buffy Andrews
"Don't start with writing a bestseller. Start with writing a good line. Don't self-publish hoping to get rich. Do it hoping to find 10 readers who will become stalwart fans." - M. J. Rose
"There is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemmingway
"An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this." - Stephen King
"Some days are typing days, and some days are thinking days, but both days are writing days." - V. E. Schwab


"I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience, you'd get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy." - Nikki Giovanni
"To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself." - Anne Rice
"That's what storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again." - Walt Disney
"Keep writing. Try to do a little bit every day, even if the result looks like crap. Getting from page four to page five is more important than spending three weeks getting page four perfect." - Alan Dean Foster
"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." - Terry Pratchett
"Endings are the hardest parts to write. This is because they are false. Nothing truly ends; it transforms." - Bonni Goldberg
"The easy, conversational tone of good writing comes only on the eighth rewrite." - Paul Graham
"It's your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read, but something that happened to himself. That's the true test of writing." - Ernest Hemmingway
"Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery." -Henry Miller
"A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world." - Susan Sontag

"Good dialogue illuminates what people are not saying." - Robert Towne
"We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories." - Jonathan Gottschall
"The only way to write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself." - Margaret Atwood
"The best work anyone ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing them. Always." - Arthur Miller
"All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know." - Ernest Hemmingway
"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
"You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer." - Margaret Atwood
"You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write." - Annie Proulx
"More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that's special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina." - John Irving
"Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." - Neil Gaiman


"In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it 'got boring,' the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling." - Stephen King
"A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." - Franz Kafka
"Writing is wretched, discouraging, physically unhealthy, infinitely frustrating work. And when it all comes together it's utterly glorious." - Ralph Peters
"There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: it's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write." - Steven Pressfield
"Let your characters speak. Don't tell us what they said." - Amanda Patterson
"Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up." - Jane Yolen
"I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say." - Flannery O'Connor
"Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else." - C.S. Lewis
"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your 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
"The first person you should think of pleasing, in writing a book, is yourself. If you can amuse yourself for the length of time it takes to write a book, the publisher and the readers can and will come later." - Patricia Highsmith


"A writer never finds the time to write. A writer makes it. If you don't have the drive, the discipline, and the desire, then you can have all the talent in the world, and you aren't going to finish a book." - Nora Roberts
"Don't say you were a bit confused and sort of tired and a little depressed and somewhat annoyed. Be tired. Be confused. Be depressed. Be annoyed. Don't hedge your prose with little timidities. Good writing is lean and confident." - William Zinsser
"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." - Sylvia Plath
"A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway." - Junot Diaz
"Writers aren't exactly people... They're a whole bunch of people trying to be one person." - F. Scott. Fitzgerald
"Finish. The difference between being a writer and being a person of talent is the discipline it takes to apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and finish. Don't talk about doing it. Do it. Finish." - E. L. Konigsburg
"There is one thing you should know about writing. It will inevitably lead you to terrible places, as you cannot write about something if you have not lived it. Though the most important thing to bear in mind is this: you are there as a tourist and must always remain one." - Lang Leav
"As a writer, I need an enormous amount of time alone. Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It's a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write." - Paul Rudnik
"Maybe it won't be famous. Maybe it won't be a movie. But that's not why I started it, and that's not why I'll finish." - Ryan Reudell
"A writer is a world trapped in a person." - Victor Hugo


"When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out." - Vickie Karp
"When you are describing a shape or a sound or a tint, don't state the matter plainly, but put it in a hint; and learn to look at all things with a sort of mental squint." - Lewis Carroll
"I write best when I am either falling in love or falling apart." - Rudy Francisco
"You must learn to be three people at once: writer, character, and reader." - Nancy Kress
"I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood, we write in order to understand." - C.S. Lewis
"One must be a little crazy to write a good novel." - John Gardner
"The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written." - John Dufresne
"Writing is a job, a talent, but it's also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink tea with in the afternoon." - Ann Patchett
"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
"When all else fails, write what your heart tells you. You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." - Mark Twain


"You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing." - Doris Lessing
"Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist." - Jane Smiley
"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart." - Maya Angelou
"You fail only if you stop writing." - Ray Bradbury
" are a writer the moment you start writing, not when you've sold your first book." - Rob Bignell
"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." - Cyril Connolly
"I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it." - Toni Morrison
"As a writer you try to listen to what others aren't saying...and write about the silence." - N. R. Hart
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." - Maya Angelou
"A drop of ink may make a million think." - Lord Byron


Writers Are Word Hoarders.

These quotes are perfect for starting your very own word-hoard for those days when you need a bit of a kick in the a** to get in the zone.

You can squirrel them away for Winter, write them down in journals, or get put on a TLC show about people with strange addictions - regardless, every writer should have an ongoing collection of great quotes to refer to.

Do you have any favorite quotes? Share them in the comments! Until next time, my beloved flock, and try not to take yourself too seriously.

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