Writing

Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving. Neil Gaiman 

Look for verbs of muscle, adjectives of exactitude. Mary Oliver

Instead of deciding what to write and defining a reader for it, start by defining your reader and writing for them. Dana Sitar

In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better. Ernest Hemingway

Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out. Charles Bukowski

A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it. Edgar Allan Poe

Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else. C.S. Lewis

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. Cyril Connolly

If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in, the chances are very high that you will interest other people as well. Rachel Carson

Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too. Isabel Allende

The only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts. The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. Anne Lamott

How to be a better writer: write about what fascinates you, make one point per sentence, use stories to make your point, cut extra words like “really” and “very”, read the whole thing out loud, post publicly (you’ll try harder when you know others will read it). James Clear

Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say. Alan Watts

The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is.. to help man endure by lifting his heart. William Faulkner

As Neil Gaiman taught me, the best way to defeat writer’s block is to get really bored. Seth Godin

The only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost. William Faulkner

In the wholeheartedness of concentration, world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done. Jane Hirshfield

Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. Kurt Vonnegut

Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance. Ralph Waldo Emerson

A poet should be so crafty with words that he is envied even for his pains. Criss Jami

At the end of the day your ability to connect with your readers comes down to how you make them feel. Benjamin J. Carey

At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then — and only then — it is handed to you. Annie Dillard

To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being just as Proust, Radiguet and Fitzgerald did: what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it. Italo Calvino

When you’re trying to create a career as a writer, a little delusional thinking goes a long way. Michael Lewis

Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world. Susan Sontag

There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work. Susan Sontag

A writer, like an athlete, must ‘train’ every day. What did I do today to keep in ‘form’? Susan Sontag 

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life. Anne Lamott

It’s by writing.. by stepping back a bit from the real thing to look at it, that we are most present. Alison Bechdel

Truth that is naked is the most beautiful, and the simpler its expression the deeper is the impression it makes. Arthur Schopenhauer

Only a person who is congenially self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays. E.B. White

A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk. Helen Dunmore

You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things. Neil Gaiman

I want my stories to move people… to feel some kind of reward from the writing. Alice Munroe

Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand. Henry Miller

The most important things are the hardest things to say. Stephen King 

I write to discover what I know. Flannery O’Connor

The joy that isn’t shared dies young. Anne Sexton

The only story that seems worth writing is a cry, a shot, a scream. A story should break the reader’s heart. Susan Sontag

Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything… It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus. Enid Bagnold

Writers are not here to conform. We are here to challenge. We’re not here to be comfortable — we’re here, really, to shake things up. That’s our job. Jeanette Winterson

A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer. Joseph Conrad

Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise. Philip Roth

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition. Isaac Asimov

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Rainer Maria Rilke

One writes most of all in order to take part in a collective enterprise. Italo Calvino

Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for. Alice Walker

Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of the world… enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space. Abraham Lincoln

Yes there is a meaning; at least for me, there is one thing that matters – to set a chime of words tinkling in the minds of a few fastidious people. Logan Persall Smith

When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. George Orwell

The only end of writing is to enable readers better to enjoy life or better to endue it. Samuel Johnson

Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood. William Howard Taft

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. Anaïs Nin 

I’ve been reading reviews of my stories for twenty-five years, and can’t remember a single useful point in any of them, or the slightest good advice. Anton Chekhov

I tell writers to keep reading, reading, reading. Read widely and deeply. And I tell them not to give up even after getting rejection letters. And only write what you love. Anita Diamant

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them. Isaac Asimov

The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews. William Faulkner

Was I bitter? Absolutely. Hurt? You bet your sweet ass I was hurt. Who doesn’t feel a part of their heart break at rejection. You ask yourself every question you can think of, what, why, how come, and then your sadness turns to anger. That’s my favorite part. It drives me, feeds me, and makes one hell of a story. Jennifer Salaiz

I used to save all my rejection slips because I told myself, one day I’m going to autograph these and auction them. And then I lost the box. James Lee Burke

I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours — so enjoy the view. Michael York

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. Erica Jong

As a writer, the worst thing you can do is work in an environment of fear of rejection. Carol Leifer

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Aristotle 

I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long. Louise Brown

The first thing you have to learn when you go into the arts is to learn to cope with rejection. If you can’t, you’re dead. Warren Adler

I had immediate success in the sense that I sold something right off the bat. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake and it really wasn’t. I have drawers full of — or I did have — drawers full of rejection slips. Fred Saberhagen

An absolutely necessary part of a writer’s equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself. Irwin Shaw

To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive. William Zinsser

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. C. S. Lewis

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one. John Wooden 

Critics are those who have failed in literature and art. Benjamin Disraeli

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Norman Vincent Peale

If you’re not failing now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative. Woody Allen

I’ve always said, ‘I have nothing to say, only to add.’ And it’s with each addition that the writing gets done. The first draft of anything is really just a track. Gore Vidal

Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of job; it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins. Neil Gaiman

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 work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. William Faulkner

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. E.L. Doctorow

No book can ever be finished. While working on it we learn just enough to find it immature the moment we turn away from it. Karl Popper

I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first drafts… so it doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating. John Green

I am not a great artist, but I have always felt impelled to write. So each day I sift the sludge anew, going through the cast-off bits and pieces of observation, of memory, of speculation, trying to make something out of the stuff that didn’t go through the filter and down the drain into the subconscious. Stephen King

One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing — writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off. Lawrence Block

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. Ernest Hemingway

Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right. Amy Joy

Writing is a struggle against silence. Carlos Fuentes

Every writer I know has trouble writing. Joseph Heller

Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all. Charles Bukowski

If you want to be an author, you can’t only choose the finished novel and book signings. You are also choosing months of lonely typing. James Clear

Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing. Norman Mailer

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. Terry Pratchett

We’re professional worriers. You’re constantly imagining things that could go wrong and then writing about them. John Green

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. Thomas Mann

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within. Gustave Flaubert

I hate writing, I love having written. Dorothy Parker

You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well. Jennifer Egan

One of the nicest things about writing for children is that you don’t find them deconstructing novels. Either they like it or they don’t like it. J.K. Rowling

I didn’t write with a target audience in mind. What excited me was how much I would enjoy writing about Harry. I never thought about writing for children ― children’s books chose me. I think if it is a good book anyone will read it. J.K. Rowling

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

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads. Dr. Seuss

I don’t write for children. I write. And somebody says, that’s for children. Maurice Sendak 

I don’t want to write for adults. I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. Only children perform miracles when they read. Astrid Lindgren

Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. E.B. White

Writing for children is bloody difficult; books for children are as complex as their adult counterparts, and they should therefore be accorded the same respect. Mark Haddon