July 28, 2016

30 Writing Quotes to Kick Off 2011

I’m an avid collector of quotes. They’re cheaper than vintage records, don’t take up as much space as a retro lunch box collection, and unlike most other tchotchkes, have the potential to keep those creativity juices flowing. With that in mind, I wanted to kick off 2011 with a round-up of my favorite writing quotes to help you get (or stay) inspired as we enter a new year.
On Writing Well
  1. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ~Anton Chekhov
  2. “As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors.” ~Rhys Alexander
  3. “Whether or not you write well, write bravely.” ~Bill Stout (ed. note: I don’t think these are mutually exclusive but I appreciate the sentiment)
  4. “Writing well means never having to say, ‘I guess you had to be there.'” ~Jef Mallett
  5. “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” ~Anaïs Nin
  6. “Sometimes a flat-footed sentence is what serves, so you don’t get all writerly: ‘He opened the door.’ There, it’s open.” ~Amy Hempel
  7. “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” ~James Thurber
  8. “Write about what you know and care deeply about. When one puts one’s self on paper — that is what is called good writing.” ~Joel Chandler Harris
  9. “Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.” ~Ezra Pound
  10. “Start early and work hard. A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” ~David Eddings
On the Agony and Ecstasy of Writing
  1. “Revision is one of the true pleasures of writing. I love the flowers of afterthought.” ~Bernard Malamud
  2. “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” ~Gloria Steinem
  3. “Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted.” ~Jules Renard
  4. “The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend.” ~Isaac Bashevis Singer
  5. “True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those who move easiest have learned to dance.” ~Alexander Pope
  6. “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” ~Gene Fowler
  7. “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” ~Anaïs Nin
  8. “The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” ~John Steinbeck
  9. “I have been correcting the proofs of my poems. In the morning, after hard work, I took a comma out of one sentence…. In the afternoon I put it back again.” ~Oscar Wilde
  10. “I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit.” ~P.G. Wodehouse
On The Lighter Side
  1. “Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.” ~Oscar Wilde
  2. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” ~ Mark Twain
  3. “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” ~Benjamin Franklin
  4. “We writers dream of a future where actors are mostly computer generated and their performances can be adjusted, by us, on a laptop, alone.” ~Tina Fey
  5. “Anyone can become a writer. The trick is staying a writer.” ~Harlan Ellison
  6. “A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one.” ~Baltasar Gracián
  7. “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” ~E. L. Doctorow
  8. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” ~Isaac Asimov
  9. “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired to write at 9 o’clock every morning.” ~Peter De Vries
  10. “Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté.” ~Margaret Atwood
Your turn! Which quotes do you find most inspiring? Are there others I should add to this list? Do tell!
Flickr photo courtesy of skobo


  1. Susan, This is a keeper! Thanks for this list; I just printed it out. It will be perfect to look at each morning as I sit down to write.Love this one, especially: "As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors.”

  2. The Writer's [Inner] Journey says:

    Fun, fun! There is always something in a good quote that I can connect to.

  3. Alisa Bowman says:

    Love this. GREAT quotes.

  4. The Red Angel says:

    Wow, all of these quotes are so true! I love what it says about synonyms… 😛 I'm a total quote geek. One of my favorites is: "My future starts when I wake up in the morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life." -Miles Davis



  5. Melanie @ Frugal Kiwih says:

    Fabulous! Duck and pate indeed!

  6. Alexandra says:

    I found a favorite that will help me over the next two months, so thanks!:

    "Write about what you know and care deeply about. When one puts one's self on paper — that is what is called good writing." ~Joel Chandler Harris

  7. MyKidsEatSquid says:

    What a great way to start 2011. Although it's not technically about writing per se, I love anything form Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, including, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

  8. artistsroad says:

    Great quotes! I particularly like #10: "Start early and work hard. A writer's apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost ready to begin. That takes a while." An author I interviewed last year told me he wrote for years to write out the bad stuff before he was at the point where he could write his first publishable novel: http://bit.ly/9zB5Jn

  9. Love these. #30 is the best! Quack! Quack!

  10. Casey@Good. Food. Stories. says:

    You're in my brain! I was just thinking about painting some writing quotes on my office wall for the new year – my fav of all time is Kerouac's "always considered writing my duty on earth."

  11. Bay Heart Music says:

    These quotes have legs! I've shared them and given you attribution for the compilation. They make me smile and encourage me. A great wey to start the new year! Thank you.

  12. Roxane B. Salonen says:

    "I hate writing; I love having written." Dorothy Parker

  13. Augusta Scattergood says:

    Great compilation- thanks! I just linked to it. Here's one of my own favorites (since I also write for kids and used to be a librarian who read all the time!)

    "We write by the light of every book we've ever read."
    Richard Peck.

  14. Andrea (Andee) Beltran says:

    Thanks so much for this list! I am an avid quote collector as well and have found quite a few on your list to add to my collection. 🙂

    One of my favorites is: Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. _ Scott Adams

  15. “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

  16. Excellent quotes all… I use quotes in all my blog posts; they are such gems.
    My favorite is by Malamud… "Revision is one of the true pleasures of writing. I love the flowers of afterthought." ~Bernard Malamud
    Without revisions, even the best writers sound like repetitive knuckleheads. Revision rules 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  17. #8 is my favorite: "Write about what you know and care deeply about. When one puts one's self on paper — that is what is called good writing." ~Joel Chandler Harris

    Thanks for compiling and sharing this.

  18. Destination Infinity says:

    Cool quotes, loved them. I have read one quote which I found very useful – Write like how a young lady dresses : Not too long to cover everything, and not too short to expose everything. 🙂 .

    Destination Infinity

  19. Thanks for this little nugget of inspiration! Just what I needed in the midst of a writer's slump.

  20. Gwyn Nichols says:

    Thanks, Susan! Love these!

    Here are a few of my favorites:

    "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." — H. G. Wells

    "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." — Mark Twain

    "If you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining." — Anne Lamott

    This one from a composer is great for us writers, too:

    “Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic.” Jean Sibelius

  21. Something great to feel a sense of living like this, but what the true age of this dream

  22. Julie Jordan Scott says:

    I found you today via #Postaday and the Anais Nin quote inspired a memorable (to me anyway) blog post.
    My First Post-a-day ever, based on the Anais Nin quote.

    I have lots of favorite writing quotes. I especially love this one, today:

    "Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of her life, every quality of her mind is written large in her works."

    Virginia Woolf

  23. A quote for reluctant writers

    I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

    Douglas Adams -HHGTG

  24. Thanks for a very helpful and entertaining collection of quotes! My favourite (for tonight!) is the Benjamin Franklin one…! 🙂

  25. I collect any quote that makes me laugh. Thank you!

    Here's one of my favorites:

    "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." – Mark Twain

  26. paul wolfe says:

    Was looking for a bunch of quotes – I'm taking part in and moderating a challenge where 25 of us are writing 100 blog posts in 100 days (6 days on, 1 day of rest).

    I send an inspirational quote every day.

    Here's my favourite so far which I believe you should add to your list:

    "You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club."
     Jack London

  27. Just found your site today. Love the quotes. I keep a similar list myself. My favourite is by Goethe,
    'Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, you can. Boldness has a genius, magic and power to it.'

  28. love love love love this post…thanks for your recent round-up as well! truly excellent advice all around. one of my favorite quotes is from william faulkner: “I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.”

  29. It’s very awesome,,,

  30. My aunt gave me the link to this blog and she is right in every way.
    keep up your fantastic work!

  31. It’s wonderful that you are getting thoughts from this paragraph as well as from our dialogue made here.

  32. Great quotes. Thanks for sharing.


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