Quotes for Writers

A list of quotes for writers – most often from writers, most often inspiring.

The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.

Joyce Carol Oates

Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly.

Jeong Kwan

Editing while writing is a terrible idea. Reviewing while writing is a terrible idea. Making retrospective story changes while writing is a terrible idea. There are cases where you might feel that you have to do some of those things, but you’d be better off if you didn’t. Just write the thing. That’s the single most valuable lesson I learned. Get the words out, almost without regard to what those words are. Keep going, at all costs.


Habit is the bed of creativity. Tuck yourself in.

Steven King

Time constraints sharpen the mind.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Inspiration is everywhere. Carry a notebook.

Victor Hugo

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightening.

Mark Twain

Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.

Ralph Keyes

The two most engaging powers of a writer are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.

Samuel Johnson

It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.

Anais Nin

It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.

Robert Hass

Good dialog illuminates what people are not saying.

Robert Towne

My prescription for writer’s block is to face the fact there is no such thing. It’s an invented condition, a literary version of the judicial ‘abuse excuse’. Writing well is difficult, but one can always write something. And then, with a lot of work, make it better. It’s a question of having enough will and ambition, not of hoping to evade this mysterious hysteria people are always talking about.

Thomas Mallon

One of the biggest, and possibly the biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you’re going to get down on paper.

Robin McKinley

Be an unstoppable force. Write with an imaginary machete strapped to your thigh. This is not a wishy-washy, polite, drinking-tea-with-your-pinkie-sticking-out stuff. It’s who you want to be, your most powerful self. Write your books. Finish them, then make them better. Find the way. No one will make this dream come true for you but you.

Laini Taylor

If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.

Steven King

When in doubt, make trouble for your character. Don’t let her stand on the edge of the pool, dipping her toe. Come up behind her and give her a good hard shove. That’s my advice to you now. Make trouble for your character. In life, we try to avoid trouble. We chew on our choices endlessly. We go to shrinks, we talk to our friends. In fiction, this is deadly. Protagonists need to screw up, act impulsively, have enemies, get into trouble.

Janet Fitch

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.

Terry Pratchet

You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.

John Rogers

Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing to do is shovel shit from a sitting position.

Steven King

A good writer is always a people watcher.

Judy Blume

If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.

Beverly Cleary

I want your loves to be multiple. I don’t want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun at it. Ignore the authors who say, oh my god, what work, oh Jesus Christ, you know. No, to hell with that. It is not work. If it’s work, stop it, and do something else.

Ray Bradbury

Writing isn't hard. Landmine removal is hard. There are so many things in this world harder than spending an hour a night pretending to be somebody else. I don't mean to minimize your pain, but let's recognize that writing is fun. It's when we don't write that we complain about how hard it is.

Greg Coates

Becoming a writer was partly a matter of acquiring technique, but it was just as importantly a matter of the spirit and a habit of the mind. It was the willingness to sit in that chair for thousands of hours, receiving only occasional and minor recognition, enduring the grief of writing in the belief that somehow, despite my ignorance, something transformative was taking place. It was an act of faith, and faith would not be faith if it was not hard, if it was not a test, if it was not an act of willful ignorance, of believing in something that can neither be predicted nor proved by any scientific metric.

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Like everyone, I know some big words, but I try my damndest not to use them.

Ernest Hemingway

I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

Anne Lamott

Don't look back until you've written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in the edit.

Will Self

I don't need time, I need a deadline.

Duke Ellington

If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

Ray Bradbury

Creative living is any life that you live where your decisions are based more strongly on your curiosity than your fear.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Whatever the genre, I look for someone who is precise and economical in their style and hard-working in their prose. By that I mean they take the time to choose words that surprise me; they use metaphors that I've never heard before; and they avoid cliches like "The mortars slammed into the hillside." I don't want to read anything - not even a clause - that I've seen before. It's just a waste of everyone's time.

Sebastian Junger

One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?"

Rachel Carson