85 of the Best Quotes About Writing

Writing is a lonely business.

Every writer — no matter how accomplished, celebrated or obscure — can get discouraged once in a while.

But the reality is that, as a writer, you’re never alone. You are in the company of many great men and women.

The quotes we’ve collected below from writers who span different times and genres bear full testimony to that fact.

So enjoy-- and whether you are looking for inspiration, encouragement or just a judicious laugh--you will find what you are looking for here…

On How to Write Right

  1. Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? George Orwell
  2. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Elmore Leonard1
  3. The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it. Ernest Hemingway
  4. Writing is a concentrated form of thinking. I don’t know what I think about certain subjects…until I sit down and try to write about them. Don DeLillo
  5. The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say. Mark Twain
  6. There are no rules in writing. There are useful principles. Throw them away when they’re not useful. But always know what you’re throwing away. Will Shetterly

On The Torture of Writing

  1. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou
  2. This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard. Neil Gaiman
  3. I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the prayers, the straightening shyness that assail one. John Steinbeck
  4. There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily. Anthony Tollope
  5. When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut, (attributed)
  6. I hate writing, I love having written. Dorothy Parker2
  7. A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades
  8. Writing is the flip side of sex – it’s good only when it’s over. Hunter S. Thompson

Writing--the torture and bliss (Writer Quotes Not To Be Missed)

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On The Importance of Writing With Emotion

  1. No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. Robert Frost
  2. Even though language has its richness the relationship between language and the writer is always like a stone and you have to make the stone human. Carmen Boullosa
  3. No writing has any real value which is not the expression of genuine thought and feeling. Eleanor Roosevelt
  4. Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader, not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon. L. Doctorow4
  5. If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. Anaïs Nin

On the ‘Right’ Writer Mindset

  1. A day in which I don’t write leaves a taste of ashes. Simone de Beauvoir5
  2. The important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it. Doris Lessing
  3. A writer’s mind seems to be situated partly in the solar plexus and partly in the head.  Ethel Wilson
  4. There is a zone to writing. It takes some effort, some hours of struggle to reach, but once you’re there, the words flow as if from a spigot. Thoughts fill up the page. Your fingers function independently of your body and brain…It is that sweet moment in a race car when everything slows down despite the speedometer reading 175 miles per hour. Everything doable in life has a zone like this. Find it and get into it. Joe Kita

Writers to inspire you...

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On The Nature of Success

  1. A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it. Roald Dahl
  2. I’ve discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, “To hell with you.” Saul Bellow
  3. The first goal of writing is to have one’s words read successfully. Robert Brault
  4. My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that’s nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success. Helen Hayes
  5. Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. Reggie Leach6
  6. What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. Bob Dylan

On Style

  1. Brevity is the sister of talent. – Anton Chekov  7
  2. One forges one’s style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines. – Emile Zola
  3. I’ve heard writers talk about “discovering a voice,” but for me that wasn’t a problem. There were so many voices that I didn’t know where to start. Sam Shepard
  4. Journalism is a good place for any writer to start  — the retailing of fact is always a useful trade and can it help you learn to appreciate the declarative sentence. A young writer is easily tempted by the allusive and ethereal and ironic and reflective, but the declarative is at the bottom of most good writing. Garrison Keillor
  5. A good style should show no signs of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident. Somerset Maugham8
  6. I leave out the parts that people skip. Elmore Leonard
  7. Resist the temptation to try to use dazzling style to conceal weakness of substance. Stanley Schmidt

Get in the ‘zone’ — finding the right writer’s mindset.

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On Storytelling

A writer’s most important job is to tell a story. Whether it be a true story or a piece of fiction, people connect to stories (see Writing with Emotion above). Without a story, writing is just a bunch of words on a screen or a piece of paper.

  1. To survive, you must tell stories. Umberto Eco
  2. In writing … remember that the biggest stories are not written about wars, or about politics, or even murders. The biggest stories are written about the things which draw human beings closer together. Susan Glaspell
  3. Go to any lengths to avoid preachiness! If you have to choose between the message and the story, always choose the story. Elizabeth Zelvin
  4. The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the dog’s mat is a story.  John le Carré9
  5. A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end… but not necessarily in that order. Jean Luc Godard
  6. Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent. Neil Gaiman
  7. Stories open up new paths, sometimes send us back to old ones, and close off still others. Telling and listening to stories we too imaginatively walk down those paths – paths of longing, paths of hope, paths of desperation. Arthur Kleinman
  8. Stories are living and dynamic. Stories exist to be exchanged. They are the currency of Human Growth. Jean Houston
  9. The world was more than a place. Life was more than an event. It was all one thing, and that thing was: story. Luis Alberto Urrea

On the Importance of Reading

We all start out as readers before we begin to write — even non-writers. But continuing to read is more important to writers than to anyone else on the planet. You must read. And these writers tell you why.

  1. If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write. – Stephen King10
  2. If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape. Ray Bradbury
  3. I really think that reading is just as important as writing when you’re trying to be a writer. Because it’s the only apprenticeship we have, it’s the only way of learning how to write a story. John Green
  4. The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book. Samuel Johnson
  5. Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer. Susan Sontag
  6. You are what you read. Esko Valtaoja11

Writer’s quotes to inspire you.

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On Editing

Editing is unarguably the most important and hardest part of writing. This is where you learn to ‘kill your babies’ and might have to leave some of your favorite words, phrases, paragraphs and pages on the cutting floor. But all good writers must learn to become good editors.

              53. I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and turn it around again. Philip Roth

  1. What I had to face, the very bitter lesson that everyone who wants to write has got to learn, was that a thing may in itself be the finest piece of writing one has ever done, and yet have absolutely no place in the manuscript one hopes to publish. Thomas Wolfe
  2. Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. Mark Twain13
  3. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, don’t be precious about your first draft, it’s an architectural blueprint to a whole building, be your own worst critic, confront your weakness and remember it’s a craft. Tobsha Learner
  4. I write a sentence a thousand times, changing it all the time to look at it in different ways. Fran Leibowitz
  5. I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. James Michener12
  6. I can’t write five words but that I change seven. Dorothy Parker
  7. The first draft of anything is shit. Ernest Hemingway
  8. There is no great writing, only great rewriting. Justice Brandeise
  9. So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads. Dr. Seuss

On Becoming a Writer

If you want to become a writer, chances are you were born to it. We don’t choose our passions, they choose us. Here’s some inspirational thoughts on becoming what you were chosen for.

  1. I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left for me. Hunter S. Thompson
  2. Writing has … been to me like a bath from which I have risen feeling cleaner, healthier, and freer. Henrik Ibsen
  3. I write because I’ve always written, can’t stop. I am a writing animal. The way a silk worm is a silk-producing animal. Doris Lessing
  4. You want to be a writer? Good for you. So does that guy. And that girl. And him. And her. And that old dude. And that young broad. And your neighbor. And your mailman. And that Chihuahua. And that copy machine. Ahead of you is an ocean of wannabe ink slaves and word earners. I don’t say this to daunt you. Or to be dismissive. But you have to differentiate yourself, and the way you do that is by doing rather than pretending. Chuck Wendig
  5. As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says “you are nothing,” I will be a writer. Hunter S. Thompson
  6. The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. Albert Camus14
  7. I was saving my life with every word I wrote, and I knew it. Tobias Wolff
  8. The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  9. Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there. Thomas Berger
  10. The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it. Leo Rosten
  11. I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die. Isaac Asimov15
  12. [Rejection] made me quit writing once. For six months. I started up again when my then seven-year-old son asked me to start writing again because I was too grumpy when I wasn’t writing. Kirby Larson
  13. It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. Ernest Hemingway17

Why telling stories with emotion is the right way to write.

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On Discipline

  1. Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days.” ― J. K. Rowling16
  2. If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day… You don’t go to a well once but daily. You don’t skip a child’s breakfast or forget to wake up in the morning… Walter Mosley
  3. I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on till I am. Jane Austen
  4. First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice. Octavia E. Butler  
  5. One hasn’t become a writer until one has distilled writing into a habit, and that habit has been forced into an obsession. Writing has to be an obsession. It has to be something as organic, physiological and psychological as speaking or sleeping or eating. Niyi Osundare
  6. 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
  7. Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet. Anonymous
  8. Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration. Ralph Keyes
  9. True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline. Mortimer J. Adler
  10.  Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work. Gustave Flaubert. 

At the end of the day, a writer’s most important task is simply to write.

Use these inspirational quotes to get your writing started.

And keep it going.

Every. Single. Day.

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About the Author

Nicknamed the 'female David Ogilvy’, Sue Rice is famous for her exquisite writing skills and strategic savvy. A native Californian and Stanford University graduate, she launched her career on Madison Avenue in the 90s and eventually helped run BBDO Europe in Paris as their Communications Director. Now a 7-figure entrepreneur, Sue helps businesses create high-quality content that attracts clients, builds brands and skyrockets sales.